Bureaucratic Nightmare

Americans Are Already Sticking It to the Permanent Bureaucracy Just Days After Landmark Supreme Court Ruling

DCNF(DCNF)—Just days after the Supreme Court struck down the precedent of automatically deferring to bureaucrats, it is now ordering lower courts to reconsider some cases where federal agencies have interfered with the activities of Americans.

On June 28, the Supreme Court overturned Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, a case that set a precedent requiring courts to defer to reasonable agency interpretations of a given law when the language used in the law was ambiguous. Now, the Supreme Court has ordered lower courts to review Foster v. U.S. Department of Agriculture and KC Transport v. Secretary of Labor, two cases where judges limited the commercial activities of Americans due to the precedent of deference set under Chevron.

“Our clients may now make their case in court without judges putting their thumb on the scale in favor of the government,” said Paige Gilliard, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, the right-of-center legal nonprofit representing the plaintiffs in both cases. “The Supreme Court’s decision to end Chevron deference is a move to restore fairness in federal courts. Our clients Arlen Foster and KC Transport are among the first beneficiaries.”

Foster v. U.S. Department of Agriculture concerns a case where melting snow drifts created a puddle on a section of property owned by South Dakotan farmer Arlen Foster in 2011, according to a court filing. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a part of the Department of Agriculture, declared that portion of Foster’s property to be a wetland and barred him from farming on it, even after the water had dried.

Foster requested that NRCS reevaluate their wetland designation and sued in 2023 when they repeatedly refused to do so. The lower courts, however, adhered to the doctrine established under Chevronand sided with the NRCS.

Critics of Chevron argued that the precedent enabled bureaucrats to push their interpretation of the law without a meaningful check from the judicial branch, thereby giving the administrative state an automatic upper hand in court. Proponents of Chevron, meanwhile, believe that the expertise available at federal agencies made them better suited for making policy choices than judges.

In KC Transport v. Secretary of Labor, a federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspector determined that the trucks and repair shop owned by KC Transport constituted a mine under the Mine Act and issued the company two citations, according to a court filing. The company’s trucks were occasionally used to haul coal and the nearest mines were miles away.

A D.C. Circuit Court ultimately deferred to the MHSA finding that KC Transport was operating a mine when the company sued.

“The era of ‘trust the experts’ is over,” Mandy Gunasekara, who served as EPA chief of staff during the Trump administration, previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “There’s no doubt that crafty administrative lawyers will try to find an end run around this ruling. But overturning Chevron deference, alongside the ‘major questions’ doctrine decision in West Virginia v. EPA, has defanged the deep state. This is a huge win for checks and balances and putting the faceless bureaucrats in their place.”

The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Labor did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

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