The Chevron doctrine may be dying according to Justice Neil Gorsuch’s dissent in BNSF Railway Co. v. Loos. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 7-2 majority upheld an IRS interpretation of law but ignored Chevron.
The Chevron doctrine requires judicial deference to reasonable agency interpretations of unclear laws. That means judges uphold agency decisions even when they may disagree about the meaning of a law. The U.S. Supreme Court decided Chevron v. NRDC in 1984 and bipartisan litigants cited the decision 81,000 times as of 2018. Even so, every justice had argued for limiting Chevron at least once according to a 2018 study.
Gorsuch said the railroad company would have made a stronger case for deference if the Chevron doctrine was still powerful. Instead, he said the company was reluctant to cite Chevron in its briefs and during oral argument. Gorsuch disagreed with the court’s interpretation of the relevant laws, but not its method. He said it was good that the court gave an independent judicial interpretation of the law “[i]nstead of throwing up [its] hands and letting an interested party—the federal government’s executive branch, no less—dictate an inferior interpretation of the law that may be more the product of politics than a scrupulous reading of the statute.”
Read more about the Chevron doctrine and judicial deference here: