ICYMI – Supreme Court overturns Chevron deference

Welcome to the Tuesday, July 2, 2024, Brew. 

By: Ethan Rice

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. ICYMI – Supreme Court overturns Chevron deference
  2. Primary elections preview for July and beyond
  3. Nebraska campaign submits signatures for paid sick leave ballot initiative 

ICYMI – Supreme Court overturns Chevron deference

In one of the final opinions of its 2023-2024 term, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 to overturn the Chevron doctrine, holding that federal courts are not required to defer to an agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous statute. In two consolidated cases—Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce—the court ruled that the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) requires courts to rely on their own interpretations of ambiguous statutes instead of deferring to agencies. 

Ballotpedia has built out an extensive library of content about Chevron and the administrative state. Here’s a quick rundown about the case, what it means, and how you can read more about it on Ballotpedia.

  • Background: The Chevron doctrine originated in the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. (1984). The ruling required courts to defer to an agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous or unclear statute that Congress delegated to the agency to enforce. The precedent established the legal structure through which courts reviewed, approved, and rejected regulations in the context of statutory intent. Opponents of the Chevron deference argued that it violated the separation of powers and gave the executive branch too much authority. Supporters argued the doctrine allowed administrative agencies to operate more efficiently.
  • The ruling: The June 28 decision overturned Chevron doctrine. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said the principle violated the APA. Roberts wrote, “Courts must exercise their independent judgment in deciding whether an agency has acted within its statutory authority, as the APA requires. … But courts need not and under the APA may not defer to an agency interpretation of the law simply because a statute is ambiguous.”
  • The dissent: Justice Elena Kagan wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson, that courts should defer to agency expertise to clarify ambiguities in statutes: “Congress knows that it does not—in fact cannot—write perfectly complete regulatory statutes. It knows that those statutes will inevitably contain ambiguities that some other actor will have to resolve, and gaps that some other actor will have to fill. And it would usually prefer that actor to be the responsible agency, not a court.”
  • What happens now:  Axios‘ Jacob Knutson said, “it’s expected that more federal rules will be challenged in the courts and judges will have greater discretion to invalidate agency actions.” However, the court’s decision will not invalidate previous cases decided under the Chevron framework. 
  • Find out more about Chevron: Ballotpedia’s administrative state coverage provides an encyclopedic overview of the administrative state. It includes information about the government’s administrative and regulatory activities, including court cases like these. Click here to explore our coverage of the administrative state. 

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Primary elections preview for July and beyond

As we enter July, we have a quiet stretch in the 2024 primary election calendar. Thirty-one states have already held statewide primaries in 2024. Let’s preview what is to come once we enter the home stretch of primaries.

  1. One state, Arizona, will hold its primary on July 30
  2. Thirteen states have August primaries:
  3. Aug. 1: Tennessee
  4. Aug. 6: Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Washington
  5. Aug. 10: Hawaii
  6. Aug. 13: Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, Wisconsin
  7. Aug. 20: Alaska, Florida, Wyoming
  8. Four states have September primaries:
  9. Sept. 3: Massachusetts
  10. Sept. 10: Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island

In 2022, one state held primaries in July. Fourteen states held August primaries in 2022, and four states held September primaries.

Louisiana, which uses a unique majority-vote primary system, holds its primaries in November alongside the presidential election.

Ballotpedia has identified 24 races across these states as battleground primaries. Among those are:

  1. Both party’s primaries for Michigan’s open U.S. Senate seat
  2. Open gubernatorial primaries in Missouri and Washington
  3. Republican legislative primaries in Tennessee following a split in the caucus over a school voucher proposal
  4. Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R) primary in Florida’s 1st Congressional District. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R) endorsed Gaetz’s challenger after Gaetz led to McCarthy’s removal as speaker.

Two congressional incumbents have lost in primaries so far. In Alabama, Rep. Jerry Carl (R) lost to fellow Rep. Barry Moore (R) after both incumbents ran in the same district following redistricting. In New York, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D) lost his primary to George Latimer (D). No Senate incumbents have lost in primary elections. Ten House incumbents lost in 2022, eight lost in 2020, and four lost in 2018. No Senate incumbents were defeated in these cycles.

In the 25 states that have held state legislative primaries, 99 incumbents (20 Democrats and 79 Republicans) were defeated. That accounts for 3.7% of the 2,704 incumbents who ran for re-election. Of those 2,704, 609 incumbents (22.5%) faced primary challengers.

At least three states had more than 10% of incumbent Republican legislators lose their re-election campaigns: Idaho (18.1%), Texas (18.1%), and South Dakota (14.8%). We covered the Texas legislative elections as battleground primaries due to a split in the GOP caucus over a proposed school voucher program and the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton (R).

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Nebraska campaign submits signatures for paid sick leave ballot initiative 

Seventeen states and Washington D.C. have paid sick leave laws. California, Illinois, Minnesota, and Washington enacted paid sick leave policies in 2023 that took effect this year. In Nebraska and Missouri, paid sick leave ballot measures may appear on the November ballot. Today, let’s take a look at the Nebraska measure, the Nebraska Paid Sick Leave Initiative.

Paid Sick Leave for Nebraskans submitted more than 138,000 signatures for verification on June 27 in hopes of qualifying the initiative. The law would require businesses to provide earned paid sick leave for employees—up to seven days for businesses of at least 20 employees and five days for fewer than 20 employees. Employees would earn one hour of paid sick time per 30 hours worked. A similar initiative in Missouri that would enact earned paid sick time and increase the state’s minimum wage also recently filed signatures on May 1. 

In Nebraska, the number of signatures required to qualify an initiated state statute for the ballot is equal to 7% of registered voters as of the deadline for filing signatures. Because of the unique signature requirement based on registered voters, Nebraska is also the only state where petition sponsors cannot know the exact number of signatures required until they are submitted. The latest voter registration statistics the Nebraska secretary of state published on May 24 show 1,231,797 registered voters, making the signature requirement 86,226.

Nebraska law also has a distribution requirement mandating that petitions contain signatures from 5% of the registered voters in each of two-fifths (38) of Nebraska’s 93 counties.

The deadline for initiative campaigns to submit signatures is July 3.

The ACLU of Nebraska, Nebraska Appleseed Action Fund, Nebraska Civic Engagement Table, and Nebraska State AFL-CIO endorsed the campaign.

Ten other ballot initiatives in Nebraska, including one veto referendum, are collecting signatures. The topics include abortion, medical and recreational marijuana, the state’s education scholarship program, and taxes.

Between 2010 and 2022, an average of eight initiatives were filed each election cycle, with an average of one certified for the ballot. There are currently no measures certified for the 2024 ballot in Nebraska.

Want more news on ballot measures? Sign up for the State Ballot Measure Monthly, an original Ballotpedia report series that tracks ballot measure certifications and the news that surrounds them on a monthly basis.
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