Chevron deference

You probably never thought of Chevron deference as proper fodder for a musical dance number. That’s because you lacked the appropriate damn vision, kids. These students decided that if it’s good enough to form the superstructure of an entire area of law, Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council is good enough to make for a catchy tune.

The song is entirely clever. For example:

But Congress can’t be delegatin’ all the big questions;
They should make policy that’s why we have elections.
So so long as the agency’s resolution doesn’t get too close to the constitution,
Put your hands on your head and crack a yawn.

Think of this as your dessert after a thrilling Law Revue contest….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Righteous Indignation, our new column for conservative-minded lawyers.

On Monday, the Supreme Court decided City of Arlington v. FCC. The question before SCOTUS was whether courts must defer to a federal regulatory agency’s interpretation of a statutory ambiguity even when that ambiguity involves the scope of the agency’s authority — its own jurisdiction.

Justice Scalia wrote for the majority, holding that even in cases such as this one, agencies are entitled to the usual deference established in Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. — aka Chevron deference. Chief Justice Roberts dissented, joined by Justices Kennedy and Alito.

The outcome of City of Arlington should be noteworthy to Court watchers — and conservatives in particular — for several reasons. First, the Scalia-Roberts split quiets the simplistic refrain that SCOTUS decides cases down rigid liberal-conservative lines. Second, it highlights an ongoing debate among conservative members of the Court about fundamental issues concerning the separation of powers and constitutional governance. Third, the Scalia and Roberts opinions demonstrate that, far from reserving their barbs for the left, conservatives can be pretty darn snarky amongst themselves.

So, let’s have a closer look….

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Last week, there was a refinery fire in Richmond, California — the “Gary, Indiana of the East Bay.” The fire, with the accompanying smoke and other pollutants shot into the air over the town, added potential injury to the insult of having to live in Richmond.

Less than a week after the fire, residents were already lining up at a local attorney’s door, hoping to file claims against Chevron. Not surprising, right? But the city already has so many health problems, it might be hard to find many cases worth litigating.

I think I’m getting the black lung, Pop….

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