News and Insights

Update: Additional Chevron Challenge to Be Heard by U.S. Supreme Court

Tax Development Nov 03, 2023

Additional Chevron Challenge to Be Heard by U.S. Supreme Court

As reported this past summer, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted review of Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo,1 which may determine the fate of the deference doctrine established in Chevron2 in 1984. The issue in Loper is whether the Court should overrule Chevron or limit or clarify the applicability of requiring deference to an agency’s reasonable interpretation of an ambiguous statute. The Supreme Court has now added another case, Relentless Inc. et al. v. Department of Commerce,3 to its docket to challenge the Chevron deference doctrine.

In Loper, a group of New Jersey fishermen are challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS’s) claimed authority under the Magnuson-Stevens Act (“the Act”) to require fishermen to pay the salaries of onboard federal observers required to monitor compliance with federal law. The Act does not specifically address the issue, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of NMFS by applying Chevron deference to the agency’s interpretation of the Act. The Court’s ruling held that although federal fishery law clearly states the government can require fishing boats to carry monitors, it does not specifically dictate who must pay for the monitors. The Court deferred to NMFS’s interpretation because it was deemed reasonable, following the Chevron doctrine. The petitioners are asking the Court to overrule or limit the application of Chevron in this case.

As in the Loper case, Relentless challenges the authority of the NMFS to require herring fishing vessels to pay the cost of onboard federal observers who are required to monitor regulatory compliance. This second Chevron case also requests an overrule or limitation of the application of the deference doctrine.

It has been noted that one reason the Court is accepting another case on the same issue is that this case will allow Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to participate in what could possibly be a landmark decision. Justice Jackson has recused herself from the Loper case based on her previous involvement in the case as a D.C. Circuit judge.

Oral arguments in Relentless will be heard along with Loper in the January 2024 argument session. We will keep you updated on this important litigation that could affect the future of tax regulations interpreting an ambiguous statute. Contact the experts at Ryan with questions related to this challenge or for any other tax consulting needs at or 1.855.RYAN.TAX.

Case Number 22-451.

Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, 461 U.S. 837 (1984).

3 Case Number 22-1219.


Mark L. Nachbar

Mary Bernard

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