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Point: SCOTUS got it right on Chevron

Craig Oren | June 20, 2018

The Supreme Court’s Chevron decision—which called for courts to defer to agencies in filling in the gaps in silent or ambiguous statutes—makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, the decision has often been misread by the lower courts, so the SCOTUS needs to reiterate what it said in Chevron.

In Chevron, the Supreme Court reviewed a lower court decision holding that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could not adopt a plant-wide definition of the term “stationary source” (a fixed emitter of pollutants).

The Court announced a two-step test for courts to use in judging whether a decision like EPA’s is valid. First, the courts should use all traditional tools of statutory construction—consideration of language, legislative history, legislative purpose—to decide whether Congress had spoken to the issue. Thus, if Congress had said that the plant-wide definition was impermissible, the agency decision would be struck down. And indeed...

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