Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (2024)

A PDF version of this document with embedded text is available at the link below:

Download the original document (pdf)

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (1)

(Slip Opinion)OCTOBER TERM, 2023SyllabusNOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as isbeing done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has beenprepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.1SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATESSyllabusLOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES ET AL. v. RAIMONDO,SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, ET AL.CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FORTHE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUITNo. 22-451. Argued January 17, 2024-Decided June 28, 2024*The Court granted certiorari in these cases limited to the questionwhether Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council,Inc., 467 U. S. 837, should be overruled or clarified. Under the Chev-ron doctrine, courts have sometimes been required to defer to "permis-sible"agency interpretations of the statutes those agencies adminis-ter even when a reviewing court reads the statute differently. Id., at843. In each case below, the reviewing courts applied Chevron's frame-work to resolve in favor of the Government challenges by petitionersto a rule promulgated by the National Marine Fisheries Service pur-suant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 U. S. C. §1801 et seq., whichincorporates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U. S. C. §551et seq.Held: The Administrative Procedure Act requires courts to exercise theirindependent judgment in deciding whether an agency has acted withinits statutory authority, and courts may not defer to an agency inter-pretation of the law simply because a statute is ambiguous; Chevron isoverruled. Pp. 7–35.(a) Article III of the Constitution assigns to the Federal Judiciarythe responsibility and power to adjudicate "Cases" and "Controver-sies" concrete disputes with consequences for the parties involved.The Framers appreciated that the laws judges would necessarily applyin resolving those disputes would not always be clear, but envisioned*Together with No. 22–1219, Relentless, Inc., et al. v. Department ofCommerce, et al., on certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals forthe First Circuit.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (2)

2LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOSyllabusthat the final "interpretation of the laws" would be "the proper andpeculiar province of the courts.” The Federalist No. 78, p. 525 (A. Ham-ilton). As Chief Justice Marshall declared in the foundational decisionof Marbury v. Madison, "[i]t is emphatically the province and duty ofthe judicial department to say what the law is." 1 Cranch 137, 177. Inthe decades following Marbury, when the meaning of a statute was atissue, the judicial role was to "interpret the act of Congress, in order toascertain the rights of the parties." Decatur v. Paulding, 14 Pet. 497,515.The Court recognized from the outset, though, that exercising inde-pendent judgment often included according due respect to ExecutiveBranch interpretations of federal statutes. Such respect was thoughtespecially warranted when an Executive Branch interpretation was is-sued roughly contemporaneously with enactment of the statute andremained consistent over time. The Court also gave "the most respect-ful consideration” to Executive Branch interpretations simply because"[t]he officers concerned [were] usually able men, and masters of thesubject," who may well have drafted the laws at issue. United Statesv. Moore, 95 U. S. 760, 763. "Respect,” though, was just that. Theviews of the Executive Branch could inform the judgment of the Judi-ciary, but did not supersede it. “[I]n cases where [a court's] own judg-ment... differ[ed] from that of other high functionaries," the court was"not at liberty to surrender, or to waive it." United States v. Dickson,15 Pet. 141, 162.During the "rapid expansion of the administrative process" that tookplace during the New Deal era, United States v. Morton Salt Co., 338U. S. 632, 644, the Court often treated agency determinations of factas binding on the courts, provided that there was "evidence to supportthe findings," St. Joseph Stock Yards Co. v. United States, 298 U. S.38, 51. But the Court did not extend similar deference to agency reso-lutions of questions of law. "The interpretation of the meaning of stat-utes, as applied to justiciable controversies,” remained “exclusively ajudicial function." United States v. American Trucking Assns., Inc.,310 U. S. 534, 544. The Court also continued to note that the informedjudgment of the Executive Branch could be entitled to "great weight."Id., at 549. "The weight of such a judgment in a particular case," theCourt observed, would "depend upon the thoroughness evident in itsconsideration, the validity of its reasoning, its consistency with earlierand later pronouncements, and all those factors which give it power topersuade, if lacking power to control." Skidmore v. Swift & Co., 323U. S. 134, 140.Occasionally during this period, the Court applied deferential re-view after concluding that a particular statute empowered an agencyto decide how a broad statutory term applied to specific facts found by

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (3)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)Syllabus3the agency. See Gray v. Powell, 314 U. S. 402; NLRB v. Hearst Publi-cations, Inc., 322 U. S. 111. But such deferential review, which theCourt was far from consistent in applying, was cabined to factbounddeterminations. And the Court did not purport to refashion thelongstanding judicial approach to questions of law. It instead pro-claimed that “[u]ndoubtedly questions of statutory interpretation . . .are for the courts to resolve, giving appropriate weight to the judgmentof those whose special duty is to administer the questioned statute."Id., at 130–131. Nothing in the New Deal era or before it thus resem-bled the deference rule the Court would begin applying decades laterto all varieties of agency interpretations of statutes under Chevron.Pp. 7–13.(b) Congress in 1946 enacted the APA "as a check upon administra-tors whose zeal might otherwise have carried them to excesses not con-templated in legislation creating their offices.” Morton Salt, 338 U. S.,at 644. The APA prescribes procedures for agency action and deline-ates the basic contours of judicial review of such action. And it codifiesfor agency cases the unremarkable, yet elemental proposition reflectedby judicial practice dating back to Marbury: that courts decide legalquestions by applying their own judgment. As relevant here, the APAspecifies that courts, not agencies, will decide "all relevant questionsof law" arising on review of agency action, 5 U. S. C. §706 (emphasisadded) even those involving ambiguous laws. It prescribes no defer-ential standard for courts to employ in answering those legal ques-tions, despite mandating deferential judicial review of agency policy-making and factfinding. See §§706(2)(A), (E). And by directing courtsto "interpret constitutional and statutory provisions" without differen-tiating between the two, §706, it makes clear that agency interpreta-tions of statutes-like agency interpretations of the Constitution—arenot entitled to deference. The APA's history and the contemporaneousviews of various respected commentators underscore the plain mean-ing of its text.Courts exercising independent judgment in determining the mean-ing of statutory provisions, consistent with the APA, may-as theyhave from the start-seek aid from the interpretations of those respon-sible for implementing particular statutes. See Skidmore, 323 U. S.,at 140. And when the best reading of a statute is that it delegatesdiscretionary authority to an agency, the role of the reviewing courtunder the APA is, as always, to independently interpret the statuteand effectuate the will of Congress subject to constitutional limits. Thecourt fulfills that role by recognizing constitutional delegations, fixingthe boundaries of the delegated authority, and ensuring the agencyhas engaged in “reasoned decisionmaking”” within those boundaries.Michigan v. EPA, 576 U. S. 743, 750 (quoting Allentown Mack Sales &

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (4)

4LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOSyllabusService, Inc. v. NLRB, 522 U. S. 359, 374). By doing so, a court upholdsthe traditional conception of the judicial function that the APA adopts.Pp. 13-18.(c) The deference that Chevron requires of courts reviewing agencyaction cannot be squared with the APA. Pp. 18–29.(1) Chevron, decided in 1984 by a bare quorum of six Justices, trig-gered a marked departure from the traditional judicial approach of in-dependently examining each statute to determine its meaning. Thequestion in the case was whether an Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) regulation was consistent with the term “stationary source" asused in the Clean Air Act. 467 U. S., at 840. To answer that question,the Court articulated and employed a now familiar two-step approachbroadly applicable to review of agency action. The first step was todiscern "whether Congress ha[d] directly spoken to the precise ques-tion at issue." Id., at 842. The Court explained that "[i]f the intent ofCongress is clear, that is the end of the matter," ibid., and courts weretherefore to "reject administrative constructions which are contrary toclear congressional intent," id., at 843, n. 9. But in a case in which "thestatute [was] silent or ambiguous with respect to the specific issue" athand, a reviewing court could not “simply impose its own constructionon the statute, as would be necessary in the absence of an administra-tive interpretation." Id., at 843 (footnote omitted). Instead, at Chev-ron's second step, a court had to defer to the agency if it had offered "apermissible construction of the statute," ibid., even if not "the readingthe court would have reached if the question initially had arisen in ajudicial proceeding,” ibid., n. 11. Employing this new test, the Courtconcluded that Congress had not addressed the question at issue withthe necessary "level of specificity" and that EPA's interpretation was"entitled to deference." Id., at 865.Although the Court did not at first treat Chevron as the watersheddecision it was fated to become, the Court and the courts of appealswere soon routinely invoking its framework as the governing standardin cases involving statutory questions of agency authority. The Courteventually decided that Chevron rested on "a presumption that Con-gress, when it left ambiguity in a statute meant for implementation byan agency, understood that the ambiguity would be resolved, first andforemost, by the agency, and desired the agency (rather than thecourts) to possess whatever degree of discretion the ambiguity allows."Smiley v. Citibank (South Dakota), N. A., 517 U. S. 735, 740-741. Pp.18-20.(2) Neither Chevron nor any subsequent decision of the Court at-tempted to reconcile its framework with the APA. Chevron defies thecommand of the APA that "the reviewing court"—not the agency whose

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (5)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)105Syllabusaction it reviews-is to "decide all relevant questions of law" and "in-terpret. . . statutory provisions.” §706 (emphasis added). It requiresa court to ignore, not follow, “the reading the court would havereached" had it exercised its independent judgment as required by theAPA. Chevron, 467 U. S., at 843, n. 11. Chevron insists on more thanthe "respect" historically given to Executive Branch interpretations; itdemands that courts mechanically afford binding deference to agencyinterpretations, including those that have been inconsistent over time,see id., at 863, and even when a pre-existing judicial precedent holdsthat an ambiguous statute means something else, National Cable &Telecommunications Assn. v. Brand X Internet Services, 545 U. S. 967,982. That regime is the antithesis of the time honored approach theAPA prescribes.Chevron cannot be reconciled with the APA by presuming that stat-utory ambiguities are implicit delegations to agencies. That presump-tion does not approximate reality. A statutory ambiguity does not nec-essarily reflect a congressional intent that an agency, as opposed to acourt, resolve the resulting interpretive question. Many or perhapsmost statutory ambiguities may be unintentional. And when courtsconfront statutory ambiguities in cases that do not involve agency in-terpretations or delegations of authority, they are not somehow re-lieved of their obligation to independently interpret the statutes. In-stead of declaring a particular party's reading “permissible” in such acase, courts use every tool at their disposal to determine the best read-ing of the statute and resolve the ambiguity. But in an agency case asin any other, there is a best reading all the same—“the reading thecourt would have reached" if no agency were involved. Chevron, 467U. S., at 843, n. 11. It therefore makes no sense to speak of a "permis-sible" interpretation that is not the one the court, after applying allrelevant interpretive tools, concludes is best.Perhaps most fundamentally, Chevron's presumption is misguidedbecause agencies have no special competence in resolving statutoryambiguities. Courts do. The Framers anticipated that courts wouldoften confront statutory ambiguities and expected that courts wouldresolve them by exercising independent legal judgment. Chevrongravely erred in concluding that the inquiry is fundamentally differentjust because an administrative interpretation is in play. The verypoint of the traditional tools of statutory construction is to resolve stat-utory ambiguities. That is no less true when the ambiguity is aboutthe scope of an agency's own power-perhaps the occasion on whichabdication in favor of the agency is least appropriate. Pp. 21–23.(3) The Government responds that Congress must generally in-tend for agencies to resolve statutory ambiguities because agencieshave subject matter expertise regarding the statutes they administer;

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (6)

6LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOSyllabusbecause deferring to agencies purportedly promotes the uniform con-struction of federal law; and because resolving statutory ambiguitiescan involve policymaking best left to political actors, rather thancourts. See Brief for Respondents in No. 22–1219, pp. 16–19. But noneof these considerations justifies Chevron's sweeping presumption ofcongressional intent.As the Court recently noted, interpretive issues arising in connec-tion with a regulatory scheme “may fall more naturally into a judge'sbailiwick" than an agency's. Kisor v. Wilkie, 588 U. S. 558, 578. UnderChevron's broad rule of deference, though, ambiguities of all stripestrigger deference, even in cases having little to do with an agency'stechnical subject matter expertise. And even when an ambiguity hap-pens to implicate a technical matter, it does not follow that Congresshas taken the power to authoritatively interpret the statute from thecourts and given it to the agency. Congress expects courts to handletechnical statutory questions, and courts did so without issue inagency cases before Chevron. After all, in an agency case in particular,the reviewing court will go about its task with the agency's "body ofexperience and informed judgment," among other information, at itsdisposal. Skidmore, 323 U. S., at 140. An agency's interpretation of astatute "cannot bind a court," but may be especially informative "to theextent it rests on factual premises within [the agency's] expertise." Bu-reau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms v. FLRA, 464 U. S. 89, 98, n. 8.Delegating ultimate interpretive authority to agencies is simply notnecessary to ensure that the resolution of statutory ambiguities is wellinformed by subject matter expertise.Nor does a desire for the uniform construction of federal law justifyChevron. It is unclear how much the Chevron doctrine as a whole ac-tually promotes such uniformity, and in any event, we see no reason topresume that Congress prefers uniformity for uniformity's sake overthe correct interpretation of the laws it enacts.Finally, the view that interpretation of ambiguous statutory provi-sions amounts to policymaking suited for political actors rather thancourts is especially mistaken because it rests on a profound misconcep-tion of the judicial role. Resolution of statutory ambiguities involveslegal interpretation, and that task does not suddenly become policy-making just because a court has an “agency to fall back on." Kisor, 588U. S., at 575. Courts interpret statutes, no matter the context, basedon the traditional tools of statutory construction, not individual policypreferences. To stay out of discretionary policymaking left to the po-litical branches, judges need only fulfill their obligations under theAPA to independently identify and respect such delegations of author-ity, police the outer statutory boundaries of those delegations, and en-sure that agencies exercise their discretion consistent with the APA.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (7)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)7SyllabusBy forcing courts to instead pretend that ambiguities are necessarilydelegations, Chevron prevents judges from judging. Pp. 23–26.(4) Because Chevron's justifying presumption is, as Members ofthe Court have often recognized, a fiction, the Court has spent the bet-ter part of four decades imposing one limitation on Chevron after an-other. Confronted with the byzantine set of preconditions and excep-tions that has resulted, some courts have simply bypassed Chevron orfailed to heed its various steps and nuances. The Court, for its part,has not deferred to an agency interpretation under Chevron since2016. But because Chevron remains on the books, litigants must con-tinue to wrestle with it, and lower courts-bound by even the Court'scrumbling precedents-understandably continue to apply it. At best,Chevron has been a distraction from the question that matters: Doesthe statute authorize the challenged agency action? And at worst, ithas required courts to violate the APA by yielding to an agency theexpress responsibility, vested in "the reviewing court," to "decide allrelevant questions of law" and "interpret statutory provisions."§706 (emphasis added). Pp. 26–29....(d) Stare decisis, the doctrine governing judicial adherence to prece-dent, does not require the Court to persist in the Chevron project. Thestare decisis considerations most relevant here—“the quality of [theprecedent's] reasoning, the workability of the rule it established, . .and reliance on the decision," Knick v. Township of Scott, 588 U. S.180, 203 (quoting Janus v. State, County, and Municipal Employees,585 U. S. 878, 917)—all weigh in favor of letting Chevron go.Chevron has proved to be fundamentally misguided. It reshaped ju-dicial review of agency action without grappling with the APA, thestatute that lays out how such review works. And its flaws were ap-parent from the start, prompting the Court to revise its foundationsand continually limit its application.Experience has also shown that Chevron is unworkable. The defin-ing feature of its framework is the identification of statutory ambigu-ity, but the concept of ambiguity has always evaded meaningful defi-nition. Such an impressionistic and malleable concept "cannot standas an every-day test for allocating" interpretive authority betweencourts and agencies. Swift & Co. v. Wickham, 382 U. S. 111, 125. TheCourt has also been forced to clarify the doctrine again and again, onlyadding to Chevron's unworkability, and the doctrine continues tospawn difficult threshold questions that promise to further complicatethe inquiry should Chevron be retained. And its continuing import isfar from clear, as courts have often declined to engage with the doc-trine, saying it makes no difference.Nor has Chevron fostered meaningful reliance. Given the Court'sconstant tinkering with and eventual turn away from Chevron, it is

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (8)

800LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOSyllabushard to see how anyone could reasonably expect a court to rely on Chev-ron in any particular case or expect it to produce readily foreseeableoutcomes. And rather than safeguarding reliance interests, Chevronaffirmatively destroys them by allowing agencies to change courseeven when Congress has given them no power to do so.The only way to “ensure that the law will not merely change errati-cally, but will develop in a principled and intelligible fashion," Vasquezv. Hillery, 474 U. S. 254, 265, is for the Court to leave Chevron behind.By overruling Chevron, though, the Court does not call into questionprior cases that relied on the Chevron framework. The holdings ofthose cases that specific agency actions are lawful—including theClean Air Act holding of Chevron itself—are still subject to statutorystare decisis despite the Court's change in interpretive methodology.See CBOCS West, Inc. v. Humphries, 553 U. S. 442, 457. Mere relianceon Chevron cannot constitute a "special justification"" for overrulingsuch a holding. Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund, Inc., 573 U. S.258, 266 (quoting Dickerson v. United States, 530 U. S. 428, 443). Pp.29-35.No. 22-451, 45 F. 4th 359 & No. 22-1219, 62 F. 4th 621, vacated andremanded.ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which THOMAS,ALITO, GORSUCH, KAVANAUGH, and BARRETT, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., andGORSUCH, J., filed concurring opinions. KAGAN, J., filed a dissentingopinion, in which SOTOMAYOR, J., joined, and in which JACKSON, J., joinedas it applies to No. 22-1219. JACKSON, J., took no part in the considera-tion or decision of the case in No. 22-451.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (9)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)1Opinion of the CourtNOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in theUnited States Reports. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter ofDecisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D. Č. 20543,, of any typographical or other formal errors.SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATESNos. 22-451 and 22-121922-451LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES, ET AL.,PETITIONERSV.GINA RAIMONDO, SECRETARY OFCOMMERCE, ET AL.ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OFAPPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUITRELENTLESS, INC., ET AL., PETITIONERS22-1219V.DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, ET AL.ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OFAPPEALS FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT[June 28, 2024]CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS delivered the opinion of theCourt.Since our decision in Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Re-sources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U. S. 837 (1984), we havesometimes required courts to defer to "permissible" agencyinterpretations of the statutes those agencies administer―even when a reviewing court reads the statute differently.In these cases we consider whether that doctrine should beoverruled.IOur Chevron doctrine requires courts to use a two-step

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (10)

2LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOOpinion of the Courtframework to interpret statutes administered by federalagencies. After determining that a case satisfies the vari-ous preconditions we have set for Chevron to apply, a re-viewing court must first assess "whether Congress has di-rectly spoken to the precise question at issue." Id., at 842.If, and only if, congressional intent is “clear,” that is the endof the inquiry. Ibid. But if the court determines that “thestatute is silent or ambiguous with respect to the specificissue" at hand, the court must, at Chevron's second step,defer to the agency's interpretation if it “is based on a per-missible construction of the statute." Id., at 843. The re-viewing courts in each of the cases before us applied Chev-ron's framework to resolve in favor of the Governmentchallenges to the same agency rule.ABefore 1976, unregulated foreign vessels dominated fish-ing in the international waters off the U. S. coast, which be-gan just 12 nautical miles offshore. See, e.g., S. Rep.No. 94-459, pp. 2–3 (1975). Recognizing the resultant over-fishing and the need for sound management of fishery re-sources, Congress enacted the Magnuson-Stevens FisheryConservation and Management Act (MSA). See 90 Stat.331 (codified as amended at 16 U. S. C. §1801 et seq.). TheMSA and subsequent amendments extended the jurisdic-tion of the United States to 200 nautical miles beyond theU. S. territorial sea and claimed "exclusive fishery manage-ment authority over all fish" within that area, known as the"exclusive economic zone.” §1811(a); see Presidential Proc-lamation No. 5030, 3 CFR 22 (1983 Comp.); §§101, 102, 90Stat. 336. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)administers the MSA under a delegation from the Secretaryof Commerce.The MSA established eight regional fishery managementcouncils composed of representatives from the coastalStates, fishery stakeholders, and NMFS. See 16 U. S. C.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (11)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)3Opinion of the Court§§1852(a), (b). The councils develop fishery managementplans, which NMFS approves and promulgates as final reg-ulations. See §§1852(h), 1854(a). In service of the statute'sfishery conservation and management goals, see §1851(a),the MSA requires that certain provisions—such as “a mech-anism for specifying annual catch limits . . . at a level suchthat overfishing does not occur,” §1853(a)(15)―be includedin these plans, see §1853(a). The plans may also includeadditional discretionary provisions. See §1853(b). For ex-ample, plans may “prohibit, limit, condition, or require theuse of specified types and quantities of fishing gear, fishingvessels, or equipment,” §1853(b)(4); “reserve a portion of theallowable biological catch of the fishery for use in scientificresearch,” §1853(b)(11); and “prescribe such othermeasures, requirements, or conditions and restrictions asare determined to be necessary and appropriate for the con-servation and management of the fishery,” §1853(b)(14).Relevant here, a plan may also require that “one or moreobservers be carried on board" domestic vessels “for the pur-pose of collecting data necessary for the conservation andmanagement of the fishery." $1853(b)(8). The MSA speci-fies three groups that must cover costs associated with ob-servers: (1) foreign fishing vessels operating within the ex-clusive economic zone (which must carry observers), see§§1821(h)(1)(A), (h)(4), (h)(6); (2) vessels participating incertain limited access privilege programs, which imposequotas permitting fishermen to harvest only specific quan-tities of a fishery's total allowable catch, see §§1802(26),1853a(c)(1)(H), (e)(2), 1854(d)(2); and (3) vessels within thejurisdiction of the North Pacific Council, where many of thelargest and most successful commercial fishing enterprisesin the Nation operate, see §1862(a). In the latter two cases,the MSA expressly caps the relevant fees at two or threepercent of the value of fish harvested on the vessels. See§§1854(d)(2)(B), 1862(b)(2)(E). And in general, it author-

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (12)

4LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOOpinion of the Courtizes the Secretary to impose “sanctions” when “any pay-ment required for observer services provided to or con-tracted by an owner or operator ... has not been paid."§1858(g)(1)(D).The MSA does not contain similar terms addressingwhether Atlantic herring fishermen may be required tobear costs associated with any observers a plan may man-date. And at one point, NMFS fully funded the observercoverage the New England Fishery Management Councilrequired in its plan for the Atlantic herring fishery. See 79Fed. Reg. 8792 (2014). In 2013, however, the council pro-posed amending its fishery management plans to empowerit to require fishermen to pay for observers if federal fund-ing became unavailable. Several years later, NMFS prom-ulgated a rule approving the amendment. See 85 Fed. Reg.7414 (2020).With respect to the Atlantic herring fishery, the Rule cre-ated an industry funded program that aims to ensure ob-server coverage on 50 percent of trips undertaken by vesselswith certain types of permits. Under that program, vesselrepresentatives must “declare into” a fishery before begin-ning a trip by notifying NMFS of the trip and announcingthe species the vessel intends to harvest. If NMFS deter-mines that an observer is required, but declines to assign aGovernment-paid one, the vessel must contract with andpay for a Government-certified third-party observer.NMFS estimated that the cost of such an observer would beup to $710 per day, reducing annual returns to the vesselowner by up to 20 percent. See id., at 7417-7418.BPetitioners Loper Bright Enterprises, Inc., H&L Axels-son, Inc., Lund Marr Trawlers LLC, and Scombrus OneLLC are family businesses that operate in the Atlantic her-ring fishery. In February 2020, they challenged the Ruleunder the MSA, 16 U. S. C. §1855(f), which incorporates

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (13)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)5Opinion of the Courtthe Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U. S. C. §551et seq. In relevant part, they argued that the MSA does notauthorize NMFS to mandate that they pay for observers re-quired by a fishery management plan. The District Courtgranted summary judgment to the Government. It con-cluded that the MSA authorized the Rule, but noted thateven if these petitioners' “arguments were enough to raisean ambiguity in the statutory text," deference to theagency's interpretation would be warranted under Chevron.544 F. Supp. 3d 82, 107 (DC 2021); see id., at 103–107.A divided panel of the D. C. Circuit affirmed. See 45F. 4th 359 (2022). The majority addressed various provi-sions of the MSA and concluded that it was not "wholly un-ambiguous" whether NMFS may require Atlantic herringfishermen to pay for observers. Id., at 366. Because thereremained "some question" as to Congress's intent, id., at369, the court proceeded to Chevron's second step and de-ferred to the agency's interpretation as a “reasonable” con-struction of the MSA, 45 F. 4th, at 370. In dissent, JudgeWalker concluded that Congress's silence on industryfunded observers for the Atlantic herring fishery-coupledwith the express provision for such observers in other fish-eries and on foreign vessels—unambiguously indicated thatNMFS lacked the authority to “require [Atlantic herring]fishermen to pay the wages of at-sea monitors." Id., at 375.CPetitioners Relentless Inc., Huntress Inc., and SeafreezeFleet LLC own two vessels that operate in the Atlantic her-ring fishery: the F/V Relentless and the F/V Persistence.¹These vessels use small-mesh bottom-trawl gear and canfreeze fish at sea, so they can catch more species of fish andtake longer trips than other vessels (about 10 to 14 days, as1 For any landlubbers, "F/V" is simply the designation for a fishing ves-sel.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (14)

6LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOOpinion of the Courtopposed to the more typical 2 to 4). As a result, they gener-ally declare into multiple fisheries per trip so they can catchwhatever the ocean offers up. If the vessels declare into theAtlantic herring fishery for a particular trip, they mustcarry an observer for that trip if NMFS selects the trip forcoverage, even if they end up harvesting fewer herring thanother vessels or no herring at all.This set of petitioners, like those in the D. C. Circuit case,filed a suit challenging the Rule as unauthorized by theMSA. The District Court, like the D. C. Circuit, deferred toNMFS's contrary interpretation under Chevron and thusgranted summary judgment to the Government. See 561F. Supp. 3d 226, 234–238 (RI 2021).The First Circuit affirmed. See 62 F. 4th 621 (2023). Itrelied on a "default norm” that regulated entities must bearcompliance costs, as well as the MSA's sanctions provision,Section 1858(g)(1)(D). See id., at 629–631. And it rejectedpetitioners' argument that the express statutory authoriza-tion of three industry funding programs demonstrated thatNMFS lacked the broad implicit authority it asserted to im-pose such a program for the Atlantic herring fishery. Seeid., at 631-633. The court ultimately concluded that the"[a]gency's interpretation of its authority to require at-seamonitors who are paid for by owners of regulated vesselsdoes not exceed[] the bounds of the permissible.”” Id., at633-634 (quoting Barnhart v. Walton, 535 U. S. 212, 218(2002); alteration in original). In reaching that conclusion,the First Circuit stated that it was applying Chevron's two-step framework. 62 F. 4th, at 628. But it did not explainwhich aspects of its analysis were relevant to which ofChevron's two steps. Similarly, it declined to decidewhether the result was "a product of Chevron step one orstep two." Id., at 634.We granted certiorari in both cases, limited to the ques-tion whether Chevron should be overruled or clarified. See

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (15)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)7Opinion of the Court601 U. S.(2023); 598 U. S.(2023).2IIAArticle III of the Constitution assigns to the Federal Ju-diciary the responsibility and power to adjudicate “Cases”and "Controversies"-concrete disputes with consequencesfor the parties involved. The Framers appreciated that thelaws judges would necessarily apply in resolving those dis-putes would not always be clear. Cognizant of the limits ofhuman language and foresight, they anticipated that “[a]llnew laws, though penned with the greatest technical skill,and passed on the fullest and most mature deliberation,"would be "more or less obscure and equivocal, until theirmeaning” was settled “by a series of particular discussionsand adjudications." The Federalist No. 37, p. 236 (J. Cookeed. 1961) (J. Madison).The Framers also envisioned that the final “interpreta-tion of the laws" would be "the proper and peculiar provinceof the courts." Id., No. 78, at 525 (A. Hamilton). Unlike thepolitical branches, the courts would by design exercise "nei-ther Force nor Will, but merely judgment.” Id., at 523. Toensure the “steady, upright and impartial administration ofthe laws," the Framers structured the Constitution to allowjudges to exercise that judgment independent of influencefrom the political branches. Id., at 522; see id., at 522–524;Stern v. Marshall, 564 U. S. 462, 484 (2011).This Court embraced the Framers' understanding of thejudicial function early on. In the foundational decision ofMarbury v. Madison, Chief Justice Marshall famously de-clared that “[i]t is emphatically the province and duty of thejudicial department to say what the law is." 1 Cranch 137,2 Both petitions also presented questions regarding the consistency ofthe Rule with the MSA. See Pet. for Cert. in No. 22–451, p. i; Pet. forCert. in No. 22–1219, p. ii. We did not grant certiorari with respect tothose questions and thus do not reach them.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (16)

8LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOOpinion of the Court177 (1803). And in the following decades, the Court under-stood "interpret[ing] the laws, in the last resort," to be a"solemn duty" of the Judiciary. United States v. Dickson,15 Pet. 141, 162 (1841) (Story, J., for the Court). When themeaning of a statute was at issue, the judicial role was to"interpret the act of Congress, in order to ascertain therights of the parties." Decatur v. Paulding, 14 Pet. 497, 515(1840).The Court also recognized from the outset, though, thatexercising independent judgment often included accordingdue respect to Executive Branch interpretations of federalstatutes. For example, in Edwards' Lessee v. Darby, 12Wheat. 206 (1827), the Court explained that “[i]n the con-struction of a doubtful and ambiguous law, the contempo-raneous construction of those who were called upon to actunder the law, and were appointed to carry its provisionsinto effect, is entitled to very great respect.” Id., at 210; seealso United States v. Vowell, 5 Cranch 368, 372 (1809) (Mar-shall, C. J., for the Court).Such respect was thought especially warranted when anExecutive Branch interpretation was issued roughly con-temporaneously with enactment of the statute and re-mained consistent over time. See Dickson, 15 Pet., at 161;United States v. Alabama Great Southern R. Co., 142 U. S.615, 621 (1892); National Lead Co. v. United States, 252U. S. 140, 145–146 (1920). That is because “the longstand-ing 'practice of the government””—like any other interpre-tive aid "can inform [a court's] determination of ‘what thelaw is."" NLRB v. Noel Canning, 573 U. S. 513, 525 (2014)(first quoting McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 401(1819); then quoting Marbury, 1 Cranch, at 177). The Courtalso gave "the most respectful consideration” to ExecutiveBranch interpretations simply because “[t]he officers con-cerned [were] usually able men, and masters of the subject,"who were "[n]ot unfrequently . . . the draftsmen of the lawsthey [were] afterwards called upon to interpret." United

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (17)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)9Opinion of the CourtStates v. Moore, 95 U. S. 760, 763 (1878); see also Jacobs v.Prichard, 223 U. S. 200, 214 (1912)."Respect," though, was just that. The views of the Exec-utive Branch could inform the judgment of the Judiciary,but did not supersede it. Whatever respect an ExecutiveBranch interpretation was due, a judge “certainly would notbe bound to adopt the construction given by the head of adepartment." Decatur, 14 Pet., at 515; see also Burnet v.Chicago Portrait Co., 285 U. S. 1, 16 (1932). Otherwise, ju-dicial judgment would not be independent at all. As JusticeStory put it, “in cases where [a court's] own judgment . .differ[ed] from that of other high functionaries," the courtwas "not at liberty to surrender, or to waive it." Dickson,15 Pet., at 162.BThe New Deal ushered in a “rapid expansion of the ad-ministrative process." United States v. Morton Salt Co., 338U. S. 632, 644 (1950). But as new agencies with new powersproliferated, the Court continued to adhere to the tradi-tional understanding that questions of law were for courtsto decide, exercising independent judgment.During this period, the Court often treated agency deter-minations of fact as binding on the courts, provided thatthere was "evidence to support the findings." St. JosephStock Yards Co. v. United States, 298 U. S. 38, 51 (1936)."When the legislature itself acts within the broad field oflegislative discretion," the Court reasoned, "its determina-tions are conclusive." Ibid. Congress could therefore "ap-point[] an agent to act within that sphere of legislative au-thority" and "endow the agent with power to make findingsof fact which are conclusive, provided the requirements ofdue process which are specially applicable to such anagency are met, as in according a fair hearing and actingupon evidence and not arbitrarily.” Ibid. (emphasis added).But the Court did not extend similar deference to agency

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (18)

10LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOOpinion of the Courtresolutions of questions of law. It instead made clear, re-peatedly, that “[t]he interpretation of the meaning of stat-utes, as applied to justiciable controversies," was "exclu-sively a judicial function." United States v. AmericanTrucking Assns., Inc., 310 U. S. 534, 544 (1940); see alsoSocial Security Bd. v. Nierotko, 327 U. S. 358, 369 (1946);Medo Photo Supply Corp. v. NLRB, 321 U. S. 678, 681–682,n. 1 (1944). The Court understood, in the words of JusticeBrandeis, that “[t]he supremacy of law demands that thereshall be opportunity to have some court decide whether anerroneous rule of law was applied." St. Joseph Stock Yards,298 U. S., at 84 (concurring opinion). It also continued tonote, as it long had, that the informed judgment of the Ex-ecutive Branch—especially in the form of an interpretationissued contemporaneously with the enactment of the stat-ute could be entitled to “great weight." American Truck-ing Assns., 310 U. S., at 549.Perhaps most notably along those lines, in Skidmore v.Swift & Co., 323 U. S. 134 (1944), the Court explained thatthe “interpretations and opinions" of the relevant agency,"made in pursuance of official duty” and “based uponspecialized experience,” “constitute[d] a body of experienceand informed judgment to which courts and litigants [could]properly resort for guidance,” even on legal questions. Id.,at 139–140. "The weight of such a judgment in a particularcase," the Court observed, would “depend upon the thor-oughness evident in its consideration, the validity of its rea-soning, its consistency with earlier and later pronounce-ments, and all those factors which give it power topersuade, if lacking power to control.” Id., at 140.On occasion, to be sure, the Court applied deferential re-view upon concluding that a particular statute empoweredan agency to decide how a broad statutory term applied tospecific facts found by the agency. For example, in Gray v.Powell, 314 U. S. 402 (1941), the Court deferred to an ad-ministrative conclusion that a coal-burning railroad that

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (19)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)11Opinion of the Courthad arrangements with several coal mines was not a coal"producer" under the Bituminous Coal Act of 1937. Con-gress had "specifically" granted the agency the authority tomake that determination. Id., at 411. The Court thus rea-soned that "[w] here, as here, a determination has been leftto an administrative body, this delegation will be respectedand the administrative conclusion left untouched" so longas the agency's decision constituted “a sensible exercise ofjudgment.” Id., at 412-413. Similarly, in NLRB v. HearstPublications, Inc., 322 U. S. 111 (1944), the Court deferredto the determination of the National Labor Relations Boardthat newsboys were “employee[s]" within the meaning ofthe National Labor Relations Act. The Act had, in theCourt's judgment, “assigned primarily" to the Board thetask of marking a “definitive limitation around the term‘employee."" Id., at 130. The Court accordingly viewed itsown role as “limited" to assessing whether the Board's de-termination had a “warrant in the record' and a reasonablebasis in law." Id., at 131.Such deferential review, though, was cabined to fact-bound determinations like those at issue in Gray andHearst. Neither Gray nor Hearst purported to refashion thelongstanding judicial approach to questions of law. InGray, after deferring to the agency's determination that aparticular entity was not a “producer” of coal, the Courtwent on to discern, based on its own reading of the text,whether another statutory term—“other disposal" of coal—encompassed a transaction lacking a transfer of title. See314 U. S., at 416-417. The Court evidently perceived nobasis for deference to the agency with respect to that purelegal question. And in Hearst, the Court proclaimed that"[u]ndoubtedly questions of statutory interpretation . . . arefor the courts to resolve, giving appropriate weight to thejudgment of those whose special duty is to administer thequestioned statute." 322 U. S., at 130–131. At least with

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (20)

12LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOOpinion of the Courtrespect to questions it regarded as involving “statutory in-terpretation," the Court thus did not disturb the traditionalrule. It merely thought that a different approach shouldapply where application of a statutory term was sufficientlyintertwined with the agency's factfinding.In any event, the Court was far from consistent in review-ing deferentially even such factbound statutory determina-tions. Often the Court simply interpreted and applied thestatute before it. See K. Davis, Administrative Law §248,p. 893 (1951) ("The one statement that can be made withconfidence about applicability of the doctrine of Gray v.Powell is that sometimes the Supreme Court applies it andsometimes it does not."); B. Schwartz, Gray vs. Powell andthe Scope of Review, 54 Mich. L. Rev. 1, 68 (1955) (notingan “embarrassingly large number of Supreme Court deci-sions that do not adhere to the doctrine of Gray v. Powell").In one illustrative example, the Court rejected the U. S.Price Administrator's determination that a particularwarehouse was a “public utility” entitled to an exemptionfrom the Administrator's General Maximum Price Regula-tion. Despite the striking resemblance of that administra-tive determination to those that triggered deference in Grayand Hearst, the Court declined to “accept the Administra-tor's view in deference to administrative construction." Da-vies Warehouse Co. v. Bowles, 321 U. S. 144, 156 (1944).The Administrator's view, the Court explained, had “hardlyseasoned or broadened into a settled administrative prac-tice,” and thus did not “overweigh the considerations” theCourt had "set forth as to the proper construction of thestatute." Ibid.Nothing in the New Deal era or before it thus resembledthe deference rule the Court would begin applying decadeslater to all varieties of agency interpretations of statutes.Instead, just five years after Gray and two after Hearst,Congress codified the opposite rule: the traditional under-standing that courts must “decide all relevant questions of

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (21)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)13Opinion of the Courtlaw." 5 U. S. C. §706.³CCongress in 1946 enacted the APA "as a check upon ad-ministrators whose zeal might otherwise have carried themto excesses not contemplated in legislation creating theiroffices." Morton Salt, 338 U. S., at 644. It was the culmi-nation of a “comprehensive rethinking of the place of ad-ministrative agencies in a regime of separate and dividedpowers." Bowen v. Michigan Academy of Family Physi-cians, 476 U. S. 667, 670–671 (1986).In addition to prescribing procedures for agency action,the APA delineates the basic contours of judicial review ofsuch action. As relevant here, Section 706 directs that "[t]o3 The dissent plucks out Gray, Hearst, and—to "gild the lily," in its tell-ing three more 1940s decisions, claiming they reflect the relevant his-torical tradition of judicial review. Post, at 21-22, and n. 6 (opinion ofKAGAN, J.). But it has no substantial response to the fact that Gray andHearst themselves endorsed, implicitly in one case and explicitly in thenext, the traditional rule that “questions of statutory interpretation . . .are for the courts to resolve, giving appropriate weight”-not outrightdeference "to the judgment of those whose special duty is to administerthe questioned statute." Hearst, 322 U. S., at 130–131. And it fails torecognize the deep roots that this rule has in our Nation's judicial tradi-tion, to the limited extent it engages with that tradition at all. See post,at 20-21, n. 5. Instead, like the Government, it strains to equate the"respect" or "weight” traditionally afforded to Executive Branch interpre-tations with binding deference. See ibid.; Brief for Respondents in No.22-1219, pp. 21-24. That supposed equivalence is a fiction. The dis-sent's cases establish that a "contemporaneous construction" shared by"not only... the courts" but also "the departments" could be "control-ling," Schell's Executors v. Fauché, 138 U. S. 562, 572 (1891) (emphasisadded), and that courts might “lean in favor” of a “contemporaneous” and"continued" construction of the Executive Branch as strong evidence of astatute's meaning, United States v. Alabama Great Southern R. Co., 142U. S. 615, 621 (1892). They do not establish that Executive Branch in-terpretations of ambiguous statutes—no matter how inconsistent, latebreaking, or flawed-always bound the courts. In reality, a judge wasnever "bound to adopt the construction given by the head of a depart-ment." Decatur v. Paulding, 14 Pet. 497, 515 (1840).

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (22)

14LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOOpinion of the Courtthe extent necessary to decision and when presented, thereviewing court shall decide all relevant questions of law,interpret constitutional and statutory provisions, and de-termine the meaning or applicability of the terms of anagency action." 5 U. S. C. §706. It further requires courtsto "hold unlawful and set aside agency action, findings, andconclusions found to be ... not in accordance with law."§706(2)(A).The APA thus codifies for agency cases the unremarka-ble, yet elemental proposition reflected by judicial practicedating back to Marbury: that courts decide legal questionsby applying their own judgment. It specifies that courts,not agencies, will decide "all relevant questions of law” aris-ing on review of agency action, §706 (emphasis added)—even those involving ambiguous laws-and set aside anysuch action inconsistent with the law as they interpret it.And it prescribes no deferential standard for courts to em-ploy in answering those legal questions. That omission istelling, because Section 706 does mandate that judicial re-view of agency policymaking and factfinding be deferential.See $706(2)(A) (agency action to be set aside if “arbitrary,capricious, [or] an abuse of discretion”); §706(2)(E) (agencyfactfinding in formal proceedings to be set aside if “unsup-ported by substantial evidence").In a statute designed to “serve as the fundamental char-ter of the administrative state,” Kisor v. Wilkie, 588 U. S.558, 580 (2019) (plurality opinion) (internal quotationmarks omitted), Congress surely would have articulated asimilarly deferential standard applicable to questions oflaw had it intended to depart from the settled pre-APA un-derstanding that deciding such questions was "exclusivelya judicial function," American Trucking Assns., 310 U. S.,at 544. But nothing in the APA hints at such a dramaticdeparture. On the contrary, by directing courts to “inter-pret constitutional and statutory provisions" without differ-entiating between the two, Section 706 makes clear that

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (23)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)15Opinion of the Courtagency interpretations of statutes—like agency interpreta-tions of the Constitution—are not entitled to deference. Un-der the APA, it thus “remains the responsibility of the courtto decide whether the law means what the agency says."Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Assn., 575 U. S. 92, 109 (2015)(Scalia, J., concurring in judgment).4The text of the APA means what it says. And a look atit* history if anything only underscores that plain meaning.According to both the House and Senate Reports on the leg-islation, Section 706 “provide[d] that questions of law arefor courts rather than agencies to decide in the last analy-sis." H. R. Rep. No. 1980, 79th Cong., 2d Sess., 44 (1946)(emphasis added); accord, S. Rep. No. 752, 79th Cong., 1stSess., 28 (1945). Some of the legislation's most prominentsupporters articulated the same view. See 92 Cong. Rec.5654 (1946) (statement of Rep. Walter); P. McCarran, Im-proving “Administrative Justice”: Hearings and Evidence;Scope of Judicial Review, 32 A. B. A. J. 827, 831 (1946).Even the Department of Justice—an agency with every in-centive to endorse a view of the APA favorable to the Exec-utive Branch opined after its enactment that Section 706merely “restate[d] the present law as to the scope of judicialreview." Dept. of Justice, Attorney General's Manual on the4 The dissent observes that Section 706 does not say expressly thatcourts are to decide legal questions using “a de novo standard of review."Post, at 16. That much is true. But statutes can be sensibly understoodonly "by reviewing text in context." Pulsifer v. United States, 601 U. S.124, 133 (2024). Since the start of our Republic, courts have "decide [d]questions of law” and “interpret[ed] constitutional and statutory pro-visions" by applying their own legal judgment. §706. Setting aside itsmisplaced reliance on Gray and Hearst, the dissent does not and couldnot deny that tradition. But it nonetheless insists that to codify thattradition, Congress needed to expressly reject a sort of deference thecourts had never before applied—and would not apply for several dec-ades to come. It did not. "The notion that some things ‘go without saying'applies to legislation just as it does to everyday life." Bond v. UnitedStates, 572 U. S. 844, 857 (2014).

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (24)

16LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOOpinion of the CourtAdministrative Procedure Act 108 (1947); see also Kisor,588 U. S., at 582 (plurality opinion) (same). That “presentlaw," as we have described, adhered to the traditional con-ception of the judicial function. See supra, at 9–13.Various respected commentators contemporaneouslymaintained that the APA required reviewing courts to ex-ercise independent judgment on questions of law. ProfessorJohn Dickinson, for example, read the APA to "impose aclear mandate that all [questions of law] shall be decided bythe reviewing Court itself, and in the exercise of its own in-dependent judgment." Administrative Procedure Act:Scope and Grounds of Broadened Judicial Review, 33A. B. A. J. 434, 516 (1947). Professor Bernard Schwartznoted that $706 "would seem to be merely a legislativerestatement of the familiar review principle that questionsof law are for the reviewing court, at the same time leavingto the courts the task of determining in each case what arequestions of law." Mixed Questions of Law and Fact andthe Administrative Procedure Act, 19 Ford. L. Rev. 73, 84-85 (1950). And Professor Louis Jaffe, who had served inseveral agencies at the advent of the New Deal, thoughtthat §706 leaves it up to the reviewing "court" to "decide asa 'question of law' whether there is 'discretion' in the prem-ises" that is, whether the statute at issue delegates par-ticular discretionary authority to an agency. Judicial Con-trol of Administrative Action 570 (1965).The APA, in short, incorporates the traditional under-standing of the judicial function, under which courts mustexercise independent judgment in determining the mean-ing of statutory provisions. In exercising such judgment,though, courts may-as they have from the start-seek aidfrom the interpretations of those responsible for imple-menting particular statutes. Such interpretations “consti-tute a body of experience and informed judgment to whichcourts and litigants may properly resort for guidance" con-sistent with the APA. Skidmore, 323 U. S., at 140. And

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (25)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)17Opinion of the Courtinterpretations issued contemporaneously with the statuteat issue, and which have remained consistent over time,may be especially useful in determining the statute's mean-ing. See ibid.; American Trucking Assns., 310 U. S., at 549.In a case involving an agency, of course, the statute'smeaning may well be that the agency is authorized to exer-cise a degree of discretion. Congress has often enacted suchstatutes. For example, some statutes “expressly delegate[]"to an agency the authority to give meaning to a particularstatutory term. Batterton v. Francis, 432 U. S. 416, 425(1977) (emphasis deleted). 5 Others empower an agency toprescribe rules to "fill up the details" of a statutory scheme,Wayman v. Southard, 10 Wheat. 1, 43 (1825), or to regulatesubject to the limits imposed by a term or phrase that"leaves agencies with flexibility," Michigan v. EPA, 576U. S. 743, 752 (2015), such as “appropriate” or “reasona-ble."6When the best reading of a statute is that it delegates5 See, e.g., 29 U. S. C. §213(a)(15) (exempting from provisions of theFair Labor Standards Act "any employee employed on a casual basis indomestic service employment to provide companionship services for in-dividuals who (because of age or infirmity) are unable to care for them-selves (as such terms are defined and delimited by regulations of the Sec-retary)" (emphasis added)); 42 U. S. C. §5846(a)(2) (requiring notificationto Nuclear Regulatory Commission when a facility or activity licensed orregulated pursuant to the Atomic Energy Act “contains a defect whichcould create a substantial safety hazard, as defined by regulations whichthe Commission shall promulgate" (emphasis added)).6 See, e.g., 33 U. S. C. §1312(a) (requiring establishment of effluent lim-itations “[w]henever, in the judgment of the [Environmental ProtectionAgency (EPA)] Administrator . . ., discharges of pollutants from a pointsource or group of point sources. . . would interfere with the attainmentor maintenance of that water quality. . . which shall assure" various out-comes, such as the "protection of public health” and “public water sup-plies"); 42 U. S. C. §7412(n)(1)(A) (directing EPA to regulate powerplants "if the Administrator finds such regulation is appropriate and nec-essary").

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (26)

18LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOOpinion of the Courtdiscretionary authority to an agency, the role of the review-ing court under the APA is, as always, to independently in-terpret the statute and effectuate the will of Congress sub-ject to constitutional limits. The court fulfills that role byrecognizing constitutional delegations, “fix[ing] the bound-aries of [the] delegated authority,” H. Monaghan, Marburyand the Administrative State, 83 Colum. L. Rev. 1, 27(1983), and ensuring the agency has engaged in “reasoneddecisionmaking”” within those boundaries, Michigan, 576U. S., at 750 (quoting Allentown Mack Sales & Service, Inc.v. NLRB, 522 U. S. 359, 374 (1998)); see also Motor VehicleMfrs. Assn. of United States, Inc. v. State Farm Mut. Auto-mobile Ins. Co., 463 U. S. 29 (1983). By doing so, a courtupholds the traditional conception of the judicial functionthat the APA adopts.IIIThe deference that Chevron requires of courts reviewingagency action cannot be squared with the APA.AIn the decades between the enactment of the APA andthis Court's decision in Chevron, courts generally continuedto review agency interpretations of the statutes they admin-ister by independently examining each statute to determineits meaning. Cf. T. Merrill, Judicial Deference to ExecutivePrecedent, 101 Yale L. J. 969, 972-975 (1992). As an earlyproponent (and later critic) of Chevron recounted, courtsduring this period thus identified delegations of discretion-ary authority to agencies on a "statute-by-statute basis." A.Scalia, Judicial Deference to Administrative Interpreta-tions of Law, 1989 Duke L. J. 511, 516.Chevron, decided in 1984 by a bare quorum of six Jus-tices, triggered a marked departure from the traditional ap-proach. The question in the case was whether an EPA reg-ulation “allow[ing] States to treat all of the pollution-

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (27)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)1999Opinion of the Courtemitting devices within the same industrial grouping asthough they were encased within a single 'bubble"" was con-sistent with the term “stationary source" as used in theClean Air Act. 467 U. S., at 840. To answer that questionof statutory interpretation, the Court articulated and em-ployed a now familiar two-step approach broadly applicableto review of agency action.The first step was to discern "whether Congress ha[d] di-rectly spoken to the precise question at issue.” Id., at 842.The Court explained that “[i]f the intent of Congress isclear, that is the end of the matter,” ibid., and courts weretherefore to "reject administrative constructions which arecontrary to clear congressional intent,” id., at 843, n. 9. Todiscern such intent, the Court noted, a reviewing court wasto "employ[] traditional tools of statutory construction."Ibid.Without mentioning the APA, or acknowledging any doc-trinal shift, the Court articulated a second step applicablewhen "Congress ha[d] not directly addressed the precisequestion at issue." Id., at 843. In such a case—that is, acase in which “the statute [was] silent or ambiguous withrespect to the specific issue” at hand—a reviewing courtcould not "simply impose its own construction on the stat-ute, as would be necessary in the absence of an administra-tive interpretation." Ibid. (footnote omitted). A court in-stead had to set aside the traditional interpretive tools anddefer to the agency if it had offered “a permissible construc-tion of the statute,” ibid., even if not “the reading the courtwould have reached if the question initially had arisen in ajudicial proceeding,” ibid., n. 11. That directive was justi-fied, according to the Court, by the understanding that ad-ministering statutes “requires the formulation of policy" tofill statutory "gap[s]"; by the long judicial tradition of ac-cording "considerable weight" to Executive Branch inter-pretations; and by a host of other considerations, includingthe complexity of the regulatory scheme, EPA's "detailed

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (28)

20LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOOpinion of the Courtand reasoned" consideration, the policy-laden nature of thejudgment supposedly required, and the agency's indirect ac-countability to the people through the President. Id., at843, 844, and n. 14, 865.Employing this new test, the Court concluded that Con-gress had not addressed the question at issue with the nec-essary "level of specificity" and that EPA's interpretationwas "entitled to deference.” Id., at 865. It did not matterwhy Congress, as the Court saw it, had not squarely ad-dressed the question, see ibid., or that "the agency ha[d]from time to time changed its interpretation," id., at 863.The latest EPA interpretation was a permissible reading ofthe Clean Air Act, so under the Court's new rule, that read-ing controlled.Initially, Chevron “seemed destined to obscurity.” T.Merrill, The Story of Chevron: The Making of an AccidentalLandmark, 66 Admin. L. Rev. 253, 276 (2014). The Courtdid not at first treat it as the watershed decision it wasfated to become; it was hardly cited in cases involving stat-utory questions of agency authority. See ibid. But withina few years, both this Court and the courts of appeals wereroutinely invoking its two-step framework as the governingstandard in such cases. See id., at 276–277. As the Courtdid so, it revisited the doctrine's justifications. Eventually,the Court decided that Chevron rested on “a presumptionthat Congress, when it left ambiguity in a statute meant forimplementation by an agency, understood that the ambigu-ity would be resolved, first and foremost, by the agency, anddesired the agency (rather than the courts) to possess what-ever degree of discretion the ambiguity allows." Smiley v.Citibank (South Dakota), N. A., 517 U. S. 735, 740-741(1996); see also, e.g., Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v.Lee, 579 U. S. 261, 276–277 (2016); Utility Air RegulatoryGroup v. EPA, 573 U. S. 302, 315 (2014); National Cable &Telecommunications Assn. v. Brand X Internet Services, 545U. S. 967, 982 (2005).

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (29)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)2124Opinion of the CourtBNeither Chevron nor any subsequent decision of thisCourt attempted to reconcile its framework with the APA.The "law of deference” that this Court has built on the foun-dation laid in Chevron has instead been “[h]eedless of theoriginal design" of the APA. Perez, 575 U. S., at 109 (Scalia,J., concurring in judgment).1Chevron defies the command of the APA that "the review-ing court”—not the agency whose action it reviews―is to"decide all relevant questions of law” and “interpret . .statutory provisions." §706 (emphasis added). It requiresa court to ignore, not follow, “the reading the court wouldhave reached" had it exercised its independent judgment asrequired by the APA. Chevron, 467 U. S., at 843, n. 11. Andalthough exercising independent judgment is consistentwith the "respect” historically given to Executive Branch in-terpretations, see, e.g., Edwards' Lessee, 12 Wheat., at 210;Skidmore, 323 U. S., at 140, Chevron insists on much more.It demands that courts mechanically afford binding defer-ence to agency interpretations, including those that havebeen inconsistent over time. See 467 U. S., at 863. Stillworse, it forces courts to do so even when a pre-existing ju-dicial precedent holds that the statute means somethingelse unless the prior court happened to also say that thestatute is “unambiguous." Brand X, 545 U. S., at 982. Thatregime is the antithesis of the time honored approach theAPA prescribes. In fretting over the prospect of "allow [ing]"a judicial interpretation of a statute “to override anagency's" in a dispute before a court, ibid., Chevron turnsthe statutory scheme for judicial review of agency action up-side down.Chevron cannot be reconciled with the APA, as the Gov-ernment and the dissent contend, by presuming that statu-tory ambiguities are implicit delegations to agencies. See

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (30)

2222LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOOpinion of the CourtBrief for Respondents in No. 22–1219, pp. 13, 37–38; post,at 4-15 (opinion of KAGAN, J.). Presumptions have theirplace in statutory interpretation, but only to the extent thatthey approximate reality. Chevron's presumption does not,because “[a]n ambiguity is simply not a delegation of law-interpreting power. Chevron confuses the two." C. Sun-stein, Interpreting Statutes in the Regulatory State, 103Harv. L. Rev. 405, 445 (1989). As Chevron itself noted, am-biguities may result from an inability on the part of Con-gress to squarely answer the question at hand, or from afailure to even "consider the question" with the requisiteprecision. 467 U. S., at 865. In neither case does an ambi-guity necessarily reflect a congressional intent that anagency, as opposed to a court, resolve the resulting inter-pretive question. And many or perhaps most statutory am-biguities may be unintentional. As the Framers recognized,ambiguities will inevitably follow from “the complexity ofobjects, . . . the imperfection of the human faculties,” andthe simple fact that "no language is so copious as to supplywords and phrases for every complex idea.” The FederalistNo. 37, at 236.Courts, after all, routinely confront statutory ambiguitiesin cases having nothing to do with Chevron-cases that donot involve agency interpretations or delegations of author-ity. Of course, when faced with a statutory ambiguity insuch a case, the ambiguity is not a delegation to anybody,and a court is not somehow relieved of its obligation to in-dependently interpret the statute. Courts in that situationdo not throw up their hands because “Congress's instruc-tions have" supposedly “run out," leaving a statutory "gap."Post, at 2 (opinion of KAGAN, J.). Courts instead under-stand that such statutes, no matter how impenetrable, do—in fact, must—have a single, best meaning. That is thewhole point of having written statutes; “every statute'smeaning is fixed at the time of enactment." Wisconsin Cen-

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (31)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)23Opinion of the Courttral Ltd. v. United States, 585 U. S. 274, 284 (2018) (empha-sis deleted). So instead of declaring a particular party'sreading “permissible” in such a case, courts use every toolat their disposal to determine the best reading of the stat-ute and resolve the ambiguity.In an agency case as in any other, though, even if somejudges might (or might not) consider the statute ambiguous,there is a best reading all the same—“the reading the courtwould have reached" if no agency were involved. Chevron,467 U. S., at 843, n. 11. It therefore makes no sense tospeak of a “permissible” interpretation that is not the onethe court, after applying all relevant interpretive tools, con-cludes is best. In the business of statutory interpretation,if it is not the best, it is not permissible.Perhaps most fundamentally, Chevron's presumption ismisguided because agencies have no special competence inresolving statutory ambiguities. Courts do. The Framers,as noted, anticipated that courts would often confront stat-utory ambiguities and expected that courts would resolvethem by exercising independent legal judgment. And evenChevron itself reaffirmed that “[t]he judiciary is the finalauthority on issues of statutory construction” and recog-nized that "in the absence of an administrative interpreta-tion," it is “necessary" for a court to “impose its own con-struction on the statute." Id., at 843, and n. 9. Chevrongravely erred, though, in concluding that the inquiry is fun-damentally different just because an administrative inter-pretation is in play. The very point of the traditional toolsof statutory construction-the tools courts use every day-is to resolve statutory ambiguities. That is no less truewhen the ambiguity is about the scope of an agency's ownpower perhaps the occasion on which abdication in favorof the agency is least appropriate.2The Government responds that Congress must generally

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (32)

224LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOOpinion of the Courtintend for agencies to resolve statutory ambiguities becauseagencies have subject matter expertise regarding the stat-utes they administer; because deferring to agencies pur-portedly promotes the uniform construction of federal law;and because resolving statutory ambiguities can involvepolicymaking best left to political actors, rather than courts.See Brief for Respondents in No. 22–1219, pp. 16–19. Thedissent offers more of the same. See post, at 9–14. But noneof these considerations justifies Chevron's sweeping pre-sumption of congressional intent.Beginning with expertise, we recently noted that inter-pretive issues arising in connection with a regulatoryscheme often “may fall more naturally into a judge's baili-wick" than an agency's. Kisor, 588 U. S., at 578 (opinion ofthe Court). We thus observed that “[w]hen the agency hasno comparative expertise in resolving a regulatory ambigu-ity, Congress presumably would not grant it that author-ity." Ibid. Chevron's broad rule of deference, though, de-mands that courts presume just the opposite. Under thatrule, ambiguities of all stripes trigger deference. Indeed,the Government and, seemingly, the dissent continue to de-fend the proposition that Chevron applies even in cases hav-ing little to do with an agency's technical subject matter ex-pertise. See Brief for Respondents in No. 22–1219, p. 17;post, at 10.But even when an ambiguity happens to implicate a tech-nical matter, it does not follow that Congress has taken thepower to authoritatively interpret the statute from thecourts and given it to the agency. Congress expects courtsto handle technical statutory questions. "[M] any statutorycases" call upon “courts [to] interpret the mass of technicaldetail that is the ordinary diet of the law," Egelhoff v.Egelhoff, 532 U. S. 141, 161 (2001) (Breyer, J., dissenting),and courts did so without issue in agency cases before Chev-ron, see post, at 30 (GORSUCH, J., concurring). Courts, afterall, do not decide such questions blindly. The parties and

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (33)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)25Opinion of the Courtamici in such cases are steeped in the subject matter, andreviewing courts have the benefit of their perspectives. Inan agency case in particular, the court will go about its taskwith the agency's “body of experience and informed judg-ment,” among other information, at its disposal. Skidmore,323 U. S., at 140. And although an agency's interpretationof a statute "cannot bind a court," it may be especially in-formative "to the extent it rests on factual premises within[the agency's] expertise." Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco andFirearms v. FLRA, 464 U. S. 89, 98, n. 8 (1983). Such ex-pertise has always been one of the factors which may givean Executive Branch interpretation particular “power topersuade, if lacking power to control." Skidmore, 323 U. S.,at 140; see, e.g., County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund,590 U. S. 165, 180 (2020); Moore, 95 U. S., at 763.For those reasons, delegating ultimate interpretive au-thority to agencies is simply not necessary to ensure thatthe resolution of statutory ambiguities is well informed bysubject matter expertise. The better presumption is there-fore that Congress expects courts to do their ordinary job ofinterpreting statutes, with due respect for the views of theExecutive Branch. And to the extent that Congress and theExecutive Branch may disagree with how the courts haveperformed that job in a particular case, they are of coursealways free to act by revising the statute.Nor does a desire for the uniform construction of federallaw justify Chevron. Given inconsistencies in how judgesapply Chevron, see infra, at 30-33, it is unclear how muchthe doctrine as a whole (as opposed to its highly deferentialsecond step) actually promotes such uniformity. In anyevent, there is little value in imposing a uniform interpre-tation of a statute if that interpretation is wrong. We seeno reason to presume that Congress prefers uniformity foruniformity's sake over the correct interpretation of the lawsit enacts.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (34)

26LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOOpinion of the CourtThe view that interpretation of ambiguous statutory pro-visions amounts to policymaking suited for political actorsrather than courts is especially mistaken, for it rests on aprofound misconception of the judicial role. It is reasonableto assume that Congress intends to leave policymaking topolitical actors. But resolution of statutory ambiguities in-volves legal interpretation. That task does not suddenly be-come policymaking just because a court has an “agency tofall back on.” Kisor, 588 U. S., at 575 (opinion of the Court).Courts interpret statutes, no matter the context, based onthe traditional tools of statutory construction, not individ-ual policy preferences. Indeed, the Framers crafted theConstitution to ensure that federal judges could exercisejudgment free from the influence of the political branches.See The Federalist, No. 78, at 522–525. They were to con-strue the law with “[c]lear heads . . . and honest hearts,” notwith an eye to policy preferences that had not made it intothe statute. 1 Works of James Wilson 363 (J. Andrews ed.1896).That is not to say that Congress cannot or does not conferdiscretionary authority on agencies. Congress may do so,subject to constitutional limits, and it often has. But to stayout of discretionary policymaking left to the politicalbranches, judges need only fulfill their obligations underthe APA to independently identify and respect such delega-tions of authority, police the outer statutory boundaries ofthose delegations, and ensure that agencies exercise theirdiscretion consistent with the APA. By forcing courts to in-stead pretend that ambiguities are necessarily delegations,Chevron does not prevent judges from making policy. Itprevents them from judging.3In truth, Chevron's justifying presumption is, as Mem-bers of this Court have often recognized, a fiction. See Buff-ington v. McDonough, 598 U. S.(2022) (GORSUCH,

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (35)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)27Opinion of the CourtJ., dissenting from denial of certiorari) (slip op., at 11);Cuozzo, 579 U. S., at 286 (THOMAS, J., concurring); Scalia,1989 Duke L. J., at 517; see also post, at 15 (opinion ofKAGAN, J.). So we have spent the better part of four decadesimposing one limitation on Chevron after another, pruningits presumption on the understanding that “where it is indoubt that Congress actually intended to delegate particu-lar interpretive authority to an agency, Chevron is 'inappli-cable."" United States v. Mead Corp., 533 U. S. 218, 230(2001) (quoting Christensen v. Harris County, 529 U. S. 576,597 (2000) (Breyer, J., dissenting)); see also Adams FruitCo. v. Barrett, 494 U. S. 638, 649 (1990).Consider the many refinements we have made in an ef-fort to match Chevron's presumption to reality. We havesaid that Chevron applies only “when it appears that Con-gress delegated authority to the agency generally to makerules carrying the force of law, and that the agency inter-pretation claiming deference was promulgated in the exer-cise of that authority." Mead, 533 U. S., at 226–227. Inpractice, that threshold requirement—sometimes calledChevron "step zero”—largely limits Chevron to “the fruits ofnotice-and-comment rulemaking or formal adjudication."533 U. S., at 230. But even when those processes are used,deference is still not warranted "where the regulation is'procedurally defective'—that is, where the agency errs byfailing to follow the correct procedures in issuing the regu-lation." Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, 579 U. S. 211,220 (2016) (quoting Mead, 533 U. S., at 227).Even where those procedural hurdles are cleared, sub-stantive ones remain. Most notably, Chevron does not ap-ply if the question at issue is one of “deep ‘economic andpolitical significance.”” King v. Burwell, 576 U. S. 473, 486(2015). We have instead expected Congress to delegatesuch authority "expressly" if at all, ibid., for “[e]xtraordi-nary grants of regulatory authority are rarely accomplishedthrough ‘modest words,' 'vague terms,' or 'subtle device[s],""

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (36)

28LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOOpinion of the CourtWest Virginia v. EPA, 597 U. S. 697, 723 (2022) (quotingWhitman v. American Trucking Assns., Inc., 531 U. S. 457,468 (2001); alteration in original). Nor have we appliedChevron to agency interpretations of judicial review provi-sions, see Adams Fruit Co., 494 U. S., at 649–650, or to stat-utory schemes not administered by the agency seeking def-erence, see Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, 584 U. S. 497, 519–520 (2018). And we have sent mixed signals on whetherChevron applies when a statute has criminal applications.Compare Abramski v. United States, 573 U. S. 169, 191(2014), with Babbitt v. Sweet Home Chapter, Communitiesfor Great Ore., 515 U. S. 687, 704, n. 18 (1995).Confronted with this byzantine set of preconditions andexceptions, some courts have simply bypassed Chevron,saying it makes no difference for one reason or another."And even when they do invoke Chevron, courts do not al-ways heed the various steps and nuances of that evolvingdoctrine. In one of the cases before us today, for example,the First Circuit both skipped “step zero,” see 62 F. 4th, at628, and refused to "classify [its] conclusion as a product ofChevron step one or step two”—though it ultimately ap-pears to have deferred under step two, id., at 634.7 See, e.g., Guedes v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explo-sives, 45 F. 4th 306, 313–314 (CADC 2022), abrogated by Garland v. Car-gill, 602 U. S. (2024); County of Amador v. United States Dept. ofInterior, 872 F. 3d 1012, 1021–1022 (CA9 2017); Estrada-Rodriguez v.Lynch, 825 F. 3d 397, 403-404 (CA8 2016); Nielsen v. AECOM Tech.Corp., 762 F.3d 214, 220 (CA2 2014); Alaska Stock, LLC v. HoughtonMifflin Harcourt Publishing Co., 747 F. 3d 673, 685, n. 52 (CA9 2014);Jurado-Delgado v. Attorney Gen. of U. S., 498 Fed. Appx. 107, 117 (CA32009); see also D. Brookins, Confusion in the Circuit Courts: How theCircuit Courts Are Solving the Mead-Puzzle by Avoiding It Altogether,85 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 1484, 1496–1499 (2017) (documenting Chevronavoidance by the lower courts); A. Vermeule, Our Schmittian Adminis-trative Law, 122 Harv. L. Rev. 1095, 1127–1129 (2009) (same); L. Bress-man, How Mead Has Muddled Judicial Review of Agency Action, 58Vand. L. Rev. 1443, 1464-1466 (2005) (same).

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (37)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)2929Opinion of the CourtThis Court, for its part, has not deferred to an agency in-terpretation under Chevron since 2016. See Cuozzo, 579U. S., at 280 (most recent occasion). But Chevron remainson the books. So litigants must continue to wrestle with it,and lower courts-bound by even our crumbling prece-dents, see Agostini v. Felton, 521 U. S. 203, 238 (1997)—understandably continue to apply it.The experience of the last 40 years has thus done little torehabilitate Chevron. It has only made clear that Chevron'sfictional presumption of congressional intent was alwaysunmoored from the APA's demand that courts exercise in-dependent judgment in construing statutes administeredby agencies. At best, our intricate Chevron doctrine hasbeen nothing more than a distraction from the questionthat matters: Does the statute authorize the challengedagency action? And at worst, it has required courts to vio-late the APA by yielding to an agency the express responsi-bility, vested in "the reviewing court," to "decide all relevantquestions of law” and “interpret . . . statutory provisions.”§706 (emphasis added).IVThe only question left is whether stare decisis, the doc-trine governing judicial adherence to precedent, requires usto persist in the Chevron project. It does not. Stare decisisis not an “inexorable command,” Payne v. Tennessee, 501U. S. 808, 828 (1991), and the stare decisis considerationsmost relevant here—“the quality of [the precedent's] rea-soning, the workability of the rule it established, . . . andreliance on the decision,” Knick v. Township of Scott, 588U. S. 180, 203 (2019) (quoting Janus v. State, County, andMunicipal Employees, 585 U. S. 878, 917 (2018))—all weighin favor of letting Chevron go.Chevron has proved to be fundamentally misguided. De-spite reshaping judicial review of agency action, neither itnor any case of ours applying it grappled with the APA-

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (38)

30LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOOpinion of the Courtthe statute that lays out how such review works. Its flawswere nonetheless apparent from the start, prompting thisCourt to revise its foundations and continually limit its ap-plication. It has launched and sustained a cottage industryof scholars attempting to decipher its basis and meaning.And Members of this Court have long questioned its prem-ises. See, e.g., Pereira v. Sessions, 585 U. S. 198, 219–221(2018) (Kennedy, J., concurring); Michigan, 576 U. S., at760-764 (THOMAS, J., concurring); Buffington, 598 U. S.(opinion of GORSUCH, J.); B. Kavanaugh, Fixing Statu-tory Interpretation, 129 Harv. L. Rev. 2118, 2150-2154(2016). Even Justice Scalia, an early champion of Chevron,came to seriously doubt whether it could be reconciled withthe APA. See Perez, 575 U. S., at 109–110 (opinion concur-ring in judgment). For its entire existence, Chevron hasbeen a “rule in search of a justification,” Knick, 588 U. S.,at 204, if it was ever coherent enough to be called a rule atall.Experience has also shown that Chevron is unworkable.The defining feature of its framework is the identificationof statutory ambiguity, which requires deference at the doc-trine's second step. But the concept of ambiguity has al-ways evaded meaningful definition. As Justice Scalia putthe dilemma just five years after Chevron was decided:"How clear is clear?" 1989 Duke L. J., at 521.We are no closer to an answer to that question than wewere four decades ago. “[A]mbiguity' is a term that mayhave different meanings for different judges." Exxon MobilCorp. v. Allapattah Services, Inc., 545 U. S. 546, 572 (2005)(Stevens, J., dissenting). One judge might see ambiguityeverywhere; another might never encounter it. Compare L.Silberman, Chevron―The Intersection of Law & Policy, 58Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 821, 822 (1990), with R. Kethledge, Am-biguities and Agency Cases: Reflections After (Almost) TenYears on the Bench, 70 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc 315, 323(2017). A rule of law that is so wholly "in the eye of the

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (39)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)31Opinion of the Courtbeholder," Exxon Mobil Corp., 545 U. S., at 572 (Stevens, J.,dissenting), invites different results in like cases and istherefore “arbitrary in practice," Gulfstream AerospaceCorp. v. Mayacamas Corp., 485 U. S. 271, 283 (1988). Suchan impressionistic and malleable concept “cannot stand asan every-day test for allocating" interpretive authority be-tween courts and agencies. Swift & Co. v. Wickham, 382U. S. 111, 125 (1965).The dissent proves the point. It tells us that a courtshould reach Chevron's second step when it finds, “at theend of its interpretive work,” that "Congress has left an am-biguity or gap." Post, at 1-2. (The Government offers asimilar test. See Brief for Respondents in No. 22–1219,pp. 7, 10, 14; Tr. of Oral Arg. 113-114, 116.) That is noguide at all. Once more, the basic nature and meaning of astatute does not change when an agency happens to be in-volved. Nor does it change just because the agency has hap-pened to offer its interpretation through the sort of proce-dures necessary to obtain deference, or because the otherpreconditions for Chevron happen to be satisfied. The stat-ute still has a best meaning, necessarily discernible by acourt deploying its full interpretive toolkit. So for the dis-sent's test to have any meaning, it must think that in anagency case (unlike in any other), a court should give up onits "interpretive work" before it has identified that bestmeaning. But how does a court know when to do so? Onthat point, the dissent leaves a gap of its own. It protestsonly that some other interpretive tools—all with pedigreesmore robust than Chevron's, and all designed to help courtsidentify the meaning of a text rather than allow the Execu-tive Branch to displace it-also apply to ambiguous texts.See post, at 27. That this is all the dissent can come upwith, after four decades of judicial experience attempting toidentify ambiguity under Chevron, reveals the futility of the

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (40)

32exercise.8LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOOpinion of the CourtBecause Chevron in its original, two-step form was so in-determinate and sweeping, we have instead been forced toclarify the doctrine again and again. Our attempts to do sohave only added to Chevron's unworkability, transformingthe original two-step into a dizzying breakdance. See Ad-ams Fruit Co., 494 U. S., at 649–650; Mead, 533 U. S., at226-227; King, 576 U. S., at 486; Encino Motorcars, 579U. S., at 220; Epic Systems, 584 U. S., at 519-520; on andon. And the doctrine continues to spawn difficult thresholdquestions that promise to further complicate the inquiryshould Chevron be retained. See, e.g., Cargill v. Garland,57 F. 4th 447, 465-468 (CA5 2023) (plurality opinion) (Maythe Government waive reliance on Chevron? Does Chevronapply to agency interpretations of statutes imposing crimi-nal penalties? Does Chevron displace the rule of lenity?),aff'd, 602 U. S. _ (2024).Four decades after its inception, Chevron has thus be-come an impediment, rather than an aid, to accomplishingthe basic judicial task of "say[ing] what the law is." Mar-bury, 1 Cranch, at 177. And its continuing import is farfrom clear. Courts have often declined to engage with thedoctrine, saying it makes no difference. See n. 7, supra.And as noted, we have avoided deferring under Chevronsince 2016. That trend is nothing new; for decades, we haveoften declined to invoke Chevron even in those cases whereit might appear to be applicable. See W. Eskridge & L.Baer, The Continuum of Deference: Supreme Court Treat-ment of Agency Statutory Interpretations From Chevron toHamdan, 96 Geo. L. J. 1083, 1125 (2008). At this point, all8 Citing an empirical study, the dissent adds that Chevron "fostersagreement among judges.” Post, at 28. It is hardly surprising that astudy might find as much; Chevron's second step is supposed to be hos-pitable to agency interpretations. So when judges get there, they tend toagree that the agency wins. That proves nothing about the supposedease or predictability of identifying ambiguity in the first place.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (41)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)33Opinion of the Courtthat remains of Chevron is a decaying husk with bold pre-tensions.Nor has Chevron been the sort of “stable background'rule” that fosters meaningful reliance. Post, at 8, n. 1 (opin-ion of KAGAN, J.) (quoting Morrison v. National AustraliaBank Ltd., 561 U. S. 247, 261 (2010)). Given our constanttinkering with and eventual turn away from Chevron, andits inconsistent application by the lower courts, it instead ishard to see how anyone-Congress included—could reason-ably expect a court to rely on Chevron in any particularcase. And even if it were possible to predict accuratelywhen courts will apply Chevron, the doctrine “does not pro-vide a clear or easily applicable standard, so arguments forreliance based on its clarity are misplaced."" Janus, 585U. S., at 927 (quoting South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., 585U. S. 162, 186 (2018)). To plan on Chevron yielding a par-ticular result is to gamble not only that the doctrine will beinvoked, but also that it will produce readily foreseeableoutcomes and the stability that comes with them. Historyhas proved neither bet to be a winning proposition.Rather than safeguarding reliance interests, Chevron af-firmatively destroys them. Under Chevron, a statutory am-biguity, no matter why it is there, becomes a license author-izing an agency to change positions as much as it likes, with“[u]nexplained inconsistency” being “at most a reasonfor holding an interpretation to be . . . arbitrary and capri-cious." Brand X, 545 U. S., at 981. But statutory ambigu-ity, as we have explained, is not a reliable indicator of ac-tual delegation of discretionary authority to agencies.Chevron thus allows agencies to change course even whenCongress has given them no power to do so. By its sheerbreadth, Chevron fosters unwarranted instability in thelaw, leaving those attempting to plan around agency actionin an eternal fog of uncertainty.Chevron accordingly has undermined the very “rule oflaw" values that stare decisis exists to secure. Michigan v.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (42)

34LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOOpinion of the CourtBay Mills Indian Community, 572 U. S. 782, 798 (2014).And it cannot be constrained by admonishing courts to beextra careful, or by tacking on a new batch of conditions.We would need to once again “revis[e] its theoretical basis... in order to cure its practical deficiencies.” Montejo v.Louisiana, 556 U. S. 778, 792 (2009). Stare decisis does notrequire us to do so, especially because any refinements wemight make would only point courts back to their duties un-der the APA to “decide all relevant questions of law” and“interpret . . . statutory provisions." §706. Nor is there anyreason to wait helplessly for Congress to correct our mis-take. The Court has jettisoned many precedents that Con-gress likewise could have legislatively overruled. See, e.g.,Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 485 U. S. 617, 618(1988) (per curiam) (collecting cases). And part of “judicialhumility," post, at 3, 25 (opinion of KAGAN, J.,), is admittingand in certain cases correcting our own mistakes, especiallywhen those mistakes are serious, see post, at 8-9 (opinionof GORSUCH, J.).This is one of those cases. Chevron was a judicial inven-tion that required judges to disregard their statutory du-ties. And the only way to “ensure that the law will notmerely change erratically, but will develop in a principledand intelligible fashion,” Vasquez v. Hillery, 474 U. S. 254,265 (1986), is for us to leave Chevron behind.By doing so, however, we do not call into question priorcases that relied on the Chevron framework. The holdingsof those cases that specific agency actions are lawful-in-cluding the Clean Air Act holding of Chevron itself—arestill subject to statutory stare decisis despite our change ininterpretive methodology. See CBOCS West, Inc. v. Hum-phries, 553 U. S. 442, 457 (2008). Mere reliance on Chevroncannot constitute a “special justification”” for overrulingsuch a holding, because to say a precedent relied on Chev-ron is, at best, “just an argument that the precedent waswrongly decided." Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund,

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (43)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)3555Opinion of the CourtInc., 573 U. S. 258, 266 (2014) (quoting Dickerson v. UnitedStates, 530 U. S. 428, 443 (2000)). That is not enough tojustify overruling a statutory precedent.***The dissent ends by quoting Chevron: "Judges are notexperts in the field."" Post, at 31 (quoting 467 U. S., at 865).That depends, of course, on what the “field” is. If it is legalinterpretation, that has been, “emphatically,” “the provinceand duty of the judicial department” for at least 221 years.Marbury, 1 Cranch, at 177. The rest of the dissent's se-lected epigraph is that judges “are not part of either politi-cal branch.' Post, at 31 (quoting Chevron, 467 U. S., at865). Indeed. Judges have always been expected to applytheir "judgment" independent of the political brancheswhen interpreting the laws those branches enact. The Fed-eralist No. 78, at 523. And one of those laws, the APA, barsjudges from disregarding that responsibility just becausean Executive Branch agency views a statute differently.Chevron is overruled. Courts must exercise their inde-pendent judgment in deciding whether an agency has actedwithin its statutory authority, as the APA requires. Carefulattention to the judgment of the Executive Branch may helpinform that inquiry. And when a particular statute dele-gates authority to an agency consistent with constitutionallimits, courts must respect the delegation, while ensuringthat the agency acts within it. But courts need not and un-der the APA may not defer to an agency interpretation ofthe law simply because a statute is ambiguous.Because the D. C. and First Circuits relied on Chevron indeciding whether to uphold the Rule, their judgments arevacated, and the cases are remanded for further proceed-ings consistent with this opinion.It is so ordered.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (44)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)1THOMAS, J., concurringSUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATESNos. 22-451 and 22-121922-451LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES, ET AL.,PETITIONERSV.GINA RAIMONDO, SECRETARY OFCOMMERCE, ET AL.ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OFAPPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUITRELENTLESS, INC., ET AL., PETITIONERS22-1219V.DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, ET AL.ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OFAPPEALS FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT[June 28, 2024]JUSTICE THOMAS, concurring.I join the Court's opinion in full because it correctly con-cludes that Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources De-fense Council, Inc., 467 U. S. 837 (1984), must finally beoverruled. Under Chevron, a judge was required to adoptan agency's interpretation of an ambiguous statute, so longas the agency had a “permissible construction of the stat-ute." See id., at 843. As the Court explains, that deferencedoes not comport with the Administrative Procedure Act,which requires judges to decide “all relevant questions oflaw” and “interpret constitutional and statutory provisions"when reviewing an agency action. 5 U. S. C. §706; see alsoante, at 18-23; Baldwin v. United States, 589 U. S.(2020) (THOMAS, J., dissenting from denial of certiorari)(slip op., at 4-5).

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (45)

21LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOTHOMAS, J., concurringI write separately to underscore a more fundamentalproblem: Chevron deference also violates our Constitution'sseparation of powers, as I have previously explained atlength. See Baldwin, 589 U. S., at(dissenting opin-ion) (slip op., at 2-4); Michigan v. EPA, 576 U. S. 743, 761–763 (2015) (concurring opinion); see also Perez v. MortgageBankers Assn., 575 U. S. 92, 115–118 (2015) (opinion con-curring in judgment). And, I agree with JUSTICE GORSUCHthat we should not overlook Chevron's constitutional de-fects in overruling it.* Post, at 15–20 (concurring opinion).To provide “practical and real protections for individual lib-erty," the Framers drafted a Constitution that divides thelegislative, executive, and judicial powers between threebranches of Government. Perez, 575 U. S., at 118 (opinionof THOMAS, J.). Chevron deference compromises this sepa-ration of powers in two ways. It curbs the judicial powerafforded to courts, and simultaneously expands agencies'executive power beyond constitutional limits.Chevron compels judges to abdicate their Article III "ju-dicial Power." §1. “[T]he judicial power, as originally un-derstood, requires a court to exercise its independent judg-ment in interpreting and expounding upon the laws."Perez, 575 U. S., at 119 (opinion of THOMAS, J.); accord, post,at 17-18 (opinion of GORSUCH, J.). The Framers under-stood that "legal texts... often contain ambiguities,” andthat the judicial power included “the power to resolve theseambiguities over time." Perez, 575 U. S., at 119 (opinion ofTHOMAS, J.); accord, ante, at 7-9. But, under Chevron, ajudge must accept an agency's interpretation of an ambigu-ous law, even if he thinks another interpretation is correct.Ante, at 19. Chevron deference thus prevents judges from*There is much to be commended in JUSTICE GORSUCH's careful consid-eration from first principles of the weight we should afford to our prece-dent. I agree with the lion's share of his concurrence. See generallyGamble v. United States, 587 U. S. 678, 710 (2019) (THOMAS, J., concur-ring).

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (46)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)3THOMAS, J., concurringexercising their independent judgment to resolve ambigui-ties. Baldwin, 589 U. S., at (opinion of THOMAS, J.) (slipop., at 3); see also Michigan, 576 U. S., at 761 (opinion ofTHOMAS, J.); see also Perez, 575 U. S., at 123 (opinion ofTHOMAS, J.). By tying a judge's hands, Chevron preventsthe Judiciary from serving as a constitutional check on theExecutive. It allows "the Executive ... to dictate the out-come of cases through erroneous interpretations." Bald-win, 589 U. S., at (opinion of THOMAS, J.) (slip op., at 4);Michigan, 576 U. S., at 763, n. 1 (opinion of THOMAS, J.);see also Perez, 575 U. S., at 124 (opinion of THOMAS, J.). Be-cause the judicial power requires judges to exercise theirindependent judgment, the deference that Chevron re-quires contravenes Article III's mandate.Chevron deference also permits the Executive Branch toexercise powers not given to it. "When the Government iscalled upon to perform a function that requires an exerciseof legislative, executive, or judicial power, only the vestedrecipient of that power can perform it.” Department ofTransportation v. Association of American Railroads, 575U. S. 43, 68 (2015) (THOMAS, J., concurring in judgment).Because the Constitution gives the Executive Branch only"[t]he executive Power," executive agencies may constitu-tionally exercise only that power. Art. II, §1, cl. 1. But,Chevron gives agencies license to exercise judicial power.By allowing agencies to definitively interpret laws so longas they are ambiguous, Chevron "transfer[s]" the Judici-ary's "interpretive judgment to the agency." Perez, 575U. S., at 124 (opinion of THOMAS, J.); see also Baldwin, 589U. S., at (opinion of THOMAS, J.) (slip op., at 4); Michi-gan, 576 U. S., at 761–762 (opinion of THOMAS, J.); post, at18 (GORSUCH, J., concurring).Chevron deference "cannot be salvaged" by recasting it asdeference to an agency's “formulation of policy." Baldwin,589 U. S., at (opinion of THOMAS, J.) (internal quotationmarks omitted) (slip op., at 3). If that were true, Chevron

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (47)

4LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOTHOMAS, J., concurringwould mean that “agencies are unconstitutionally exercis-ing legislative Powers' vested in Congress." Baldwin, 589U. S., at (opinion of THOMAS, J.) (slip op., at 3) (quotingArt. I, §1). By "giv[ing] the force of law to agency pro-nouncements on matters of private conduct as to whichCongress did not actually have an intent," Chevron "per-mit[s] a body other than Congress to perform a functionthat requires an exercise of legislative power." Michigan,576 U. S., at 762 (opinion of THOMAS, J.) (internal quotationmarks omitted). No matter the gloss put on it, Chevron ex-pands agencies' power beyond the bounds of Article II bypermitting them to exercise powers reserved to anotherbranch of Government.Chevron deference was "not a harmless transfer ofpower." Baldwin, 589 U. S., at (opinion of THOMAS, J.)(slip op., at 3). "The Constitution carefully imposes struc-tural constraints on all three branches, and the exercise ofpower free of those accompanying restraints subverts thedesign of the Constitution's ratifiers." Ibid. In particular,the Founders envisioned that “the courts [would] check theExecutive by applying the correct interpretation of the law."Id., at (slip op., at 4). Chevron was thus a fundamentaldisruption of our separation of powers. It improperly stripscourts of judicial power by simultaneously increasing thepower of executive agencies. By overruling Chevron, we re-store this aspect of our separation of powers. To safeguardindividual liberty, “[s]tructure is everything." A. Scalia,Foreword: The Importance of Structure in ConstitutionalInterpretation, 83 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1417, 1418 (2008).Although the Court finally ends our 40-year misadventurewith Chevron deference, its more profound problems shouldnot be overlooked. Regardless of what a statute says, thetype of deference required by Chevron violates the Consti-tution.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (48)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)1GORSUCH, J., concurringSUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATESNos. 22-451 and 22-121922-451LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES, ET AL.,PETITIONERSV.GINA RAIMONDO, SECRETARY OFCOMMERCE, ET AL.ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OFAPPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUITRELENTLESS, INC., ET AL., PETITIONERS22-1219V.DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, ET AL.ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OFAPPEALS FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT[June 28, 2024]JUSTICE GORSUCH, concurring.In disputes between individuals and the governmentabout the meaning of a federal law, federal courts have tra-ditionally sought to offer independent judgments about"what the law is" without favor to either side. Marbury v.Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803). Beginning in the mid-1980s, however, this Court experimented with a radicallydifferent approach. Applying Chevron deference, judges be-gan deferring to the views of executive agency officialsabout the meaning of federal statutes. See Chevron U. S. A.Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U. S.837 (1984). With time, the error of this approach becamewidely appreciated. So much so that this Court has refusedto apply Chevron deference since 2016. Today, the Courtplaces a tombstone on Chevron no one can miss. In doing

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (49)

2LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOGORSUCH, J., concurringso, the Court returns judges to interpretive rules that haveguided federal courts since the Nation's founding. I writeseparately to address why the proper application of the doc-trine of stare decisis supports that course.IAToday, the phrase “common law judge” may call to minda judicial titan of the past who brilliantly devised new legalrules on his own. The phrase "stare decisis” might conjureup a sense that judges who come later in time are strictlybound to follow the work of their predecessors. But neitherof those intuitions fairly describes the traditional common-law understanding of the judge's role or the doctrine of staredecisis.At common law, a judge's charge to decide cases was notusually understood as a license to make new law. For muchof England's early history, different rulers and different le-gal systems prevailed in different regions. As England con-solidated into a single kingdom governed by a single legalsystem, the judge's task was to examine those pre-existinglegal traditions and apply in the disputes that came to himthose legal rules that were "common to the whole land andto all Englishmen.” F. Maitland, Equity, Also the Forms ofAction at Common Law 2 (1929). That was "common law"judging.This view of the judge's role had consequences for the au-thority due judicial decisions. Because a judge's job was tofind and apply the law, not make it, the “opinion of thejudge" and "the law" were not considered “one and the samething." 1 W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws ofEngland 71 (1765) (Blackstone) (emphasis deleted).judge's decision might bind the parties to the case at hand.M. Hale, The History and Analysis of the Common Law ofEngland 68 (1713) (Hale). But none of that meant the judgehad the power to "make a Law properly so called" for societyA

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (50)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)3GORSUCH, J., concurringat large, "for that only the King and Parliament can do."Ibid.Other consequences followed for the role precedentplayed in future judicial proceedings. Because past deci-sions represented something “less than a Law,” they did notbind future judges. Ibid. At the same time, as MatthewHale put it, a future judge could give a past decision"Weight" as "Evidence” of the law. Ibid. Expressing thesame idea, William Blackstone conceived of judicial prece-dents as "evidence" of "the common law." 1 Blackstone 69,71. And much like other forms of evidence, precedents atcommon law were thought to vary in the weight due them.Some past decisions might supply future courts with con-siderable guidance. But others might be entitled to lesserweight, not least because judges are no less prone to errorthan anyone else and they may sometimes "mistake" whatthe law demands. Id., at 71 (emphasis deleted). In caseslike that, both men thought, a future judge should notrotely repeat a past mistake but instead "vindicate" the law"from misrepresentation.” Id., at 70.When examining past decisions as evidence of the law,common law judges did not, broadly speaking, afford over-whelming weight to any “single precedent.” J. Baker, AnIntroduction to English Legal History 209-210 (5th ed.2019). Instead, a prior decision's persuasive force dependedin large measure on its "Consonancy and Congruity withResolutions and Decisions of former Times." Hale 68. Anindividual decision might reflect the views of one court atone moment in time, but a consistent line of decisions rep-resenting the wisdom of many minds across many genera-tions was generally considered stronger evidence of thelaw's meaning. Ibid.With this conception of precedent in mind, Lord Mans-field cautioned against elevating “particular cases" abovethe “general principles” that “run through the cases, andgovern the decision of them.” Rust v. Cooper, 2 Cowp. 629,

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (51)

4LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOGORSUCH, J., concurring632, 98 Eng. Rep. 1277, 1279 (K. B. 1777). By discardingaberrational rulings and pursuing instead the mainstreamof past decisions, he observed, the common law tended overtime to "wor[k] itself pure." Omychund v. Barker, 1 Atk. 22,33, 26 Eng. Rep. 15, 23 (Ch. 1744) (emphasis deleted). Re-flecting similar thinking, Edmund Burke offered five prin-ciples for the evaluation of past judicial decisions: "Theyought to be shewn; first, to be numerous and not scatteredhere and there; secondly, concurrent and not contradic-tory and mutually destructive;—thirdly, to be made in goodand constitutional times;—fourthly, not to be made to servean occasion; and fifthly, to be agreeable to the generaltenor of legal principles." Speech of Dec. 23, 1790, in 3 TheSpeeches of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke 513(1816).Not only did different decisions carry different weight, sodid different language within a decision. An opinion's hold-ing and the reasoning essential to it (the ratio decidendi)merited careful attention. Dicta, stray remarks, and di-gressions warranted less weight. See N. Duxbury, The In-tricacies of Dicta and Dissent 19-24 (2021) (Duxbury).These were no more than “the vapours and fumes of law."F. Bacon, The Lord Keeper's Speech in the Exchequer(1617), in 2 The Works of Francis Bacon 478 (B. Montagued. 1887) (Bacon).That is not to say those "vapours” were worthless. Oftendicta might provide the parties to a particular dispute a"fuller understanding of the court's decisional path or re-lated areas of concern." B. Garner et al., The Law of Judi-cial Precedent 65 (2016) (Precedent). Dicta might also pro-vide future courts with a source of "thoughtful advice."Ibid. But future courts had to be careful not to treat every"hasty expression. as a serious and deliberate opinion."Steel v. Houghton, 1 Bl. H. 51, 53, 126 Eng. Rep. 32, 33(C. P. 1788). To do so would work an “injustice to [the]memory" of their predecessors who could not expect judicial

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (52)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)5GORSUCH, J., concurringremarks issued in one context to apply perfectly in others,perhaps especially ones they could not foresee. Ibid. Also,the limits of the adversarial process, a distinctive feature ofEnglish law, had to be borne in mind. When a single judgeor a small panel reached a decision in a case, they did sobased on the factual record and legal arguments the partiesat hand have chosen to develop. Attuned to those con-straints, future judges had to proceed with an open mind tothe possibility that different facts and different legal argu-ments might dictate different outcomes in later disputes.See Duxbury 19–24.BNecessarily, this represents just a quick sketch of tradi-tional common-law understandings of the judge's role andthe place of precedent in it. It focuses, too, on the horizon-tal, not vertical, force of judicial precedents. But there aregood reasons to think that the common law's understand-ings of judges and precedent outlined above crossed the At-lantic and informed the nature of the “judicial Power” theConstitution vests in federal courts. Art. III, §1.Not only was the Constitution adopted against the back-drop of these understandings and, in light of that alone,they may provide evidence of what the framers meant whenthey spoke of the “judicial Power." Many other, more spe-cific provisions in the Constitution reflect much the samedistinction between lawmaking and lawfinding functionsthe common law did. The Constitution provides that itsterms may be amended only through certain prescribeddemocratic processes. Art. V. It vests the power to enactfederal legislation exclusively in the people's elected repre-sentatives in Congress. Art. I, §1. Meanwhile, the Consti-tution describes the judicial power as the power to resolvecases and controversies. Art. III, §2, cl. 1. As well, it dele-gates that authority to life-tenured judges, see §1, an as-signment that would have made little sense if judges could

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (53)

6LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOGORSUCH, J., concurringusurp lawmaking powers vested in periodically elected rep-resentatives. But one that makes perfect sense if what issought is a neutral party "to interpret and apply" the lawwithout fear or favor in a dispute between others. 2 TheWorks of James Wilson 161 (J. Andrews ed. 1896) (Wilson);see Osborn v. Bank of United States, 9 Wheat. 738, 866(1824).The constrained view of the judicial power that runsthrough our Constitution carries with it familiar implica-tions, ones the framers readily acknowledged. James Mad-ison, for example, proclaimed that it would be a "fallacy” tosuggest that judges or their precedents could “repeal or al-ter" the Constitution or the laws of the United States. Let-ter to N. Trist (Dec. 1831), in 9 The Writings of James Mad-ison 477 (G. Hunt ed. 1910). A court's opinion, JamesWilson added, may be thought of as “effective la[w]” “[a]s tothe parties.” Wilson 160–161. But as in England, Wilsonsaid, a prior judicial decision could serve in a future disputeonly as "evidence" of the law's proper construction. Id., at160; accord, 1 J. Kent, Commentaries on American Law442-443 (1826).The framers also recognized that the judicial power de-scribed in our Constitution implies, as the judicial powerdid in England, a power (and duty) of discrimination whenit comes to assessing the "evidence" embodied in past deci-sions. So, for example, Madison observed that judicial rul-ings "repeatedly confirmed" may supply better evidence ofthe law's meaning than isolated or aberrant ones. Letter toC. Ingersoll (June 1831), in 4 Letters and Other Writings ofJames Madison 184 (1867) (emphasis added). Extendingthe thought, Thomas Jefferson believed it would often take“numerous decisions” for the meaning of new statutes to be-come truly "settled." Letter to S. Jones (July 1809), in 12The Writings of Thomas Jefferson 299 (A. Bergh ed. 1907).From the start, too, American courts recognized that noteverything found in a prior decision was entitled to equal

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (54)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)7GORSUCH, J., concurringweight. As Chief Justice Marshall warned, “It is a maximnot to be disregarded, that general expressions, in everyopinion, are to be taken in connection with the case in whichthose expressions are used." Cohens v. Virginia, 6 Wheat.264, 399 (1821). To the extent a past court offered views"beyond the case," those expressions “may be respected" ina later case "but ought not to control the judgment.” Ibid.One "obvious" reason for this, Marshall continued, had todo with the limits of the adversarial process we inheritedfrom England: Only “[t]he question actually before theCourt is investigated with care, and considered in its fullextent. Other principles which may serve to illustrate it,are considered in their relation to the case decided, buttheir possible bearing on all other cases is seldom com-pletely investigated." Id., at 399–400.Abraham Lincoln championed these traditional under-standings in his debates with Stephen Douglas. Douglastook the view that a single decision of this Court―no mat-ter how flawed-could definitively resolve a contested issuefor everyone and all time. Those who thought otherwise, hesaid, “aim[ed] a deadly blow to our whole Republican sys-tem of government." Speech at Springfield, Ill. (June 26,1857), in 2 The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln 401 (R.Basler ed. 1953) (Lincoln Speech). But Lincoln knew better.While accepting that judicial decisions “absolutely deter-mine” the rights of the parties to a court's judgment, he re-fused to accept that any single judicial decision could “fullysettl[e]" an issue, particularly when that decision departsfrom the Constitution. Id., at 400-401. In cases such asthese, Lincoln explained, “it is not resistance, it is not fac-tious, it is not even disrespectful, to treat [the decision] asnot having yet quite established a settled doctrine for thecountry." Id., at 401.After the Civil War, the Court echoed some of these samepoints. It stressed that every statement in a judicial opin-

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (55)

8LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOGORSUCH, J., concurringion "must be taken in connection with its immediate con-text," In re Ayers, 123 U. S. 443, 488 (1887), and stray “re-marks" must not be elevated above the written law, see TheBelfast, 7 Wall. 624, 641 (1869); see also, e.g., Trebilco*ck v.Wilson, 12 Wall. 687, 692–693 (1872); Mason v. Eldred, 6Wall. 231, 236–238 (1868). During Chief Justice Chase'stenure, it seems a Justice writing the Court's majority opin-ion would generally work alone and present his work orallyand in summary form to his colleagues at conference, whichmeant that other Justices often did not even review theopinion prior to publication. 6 C. Fairman, History of theSupreme Court of the United States 69-70 (1971). TheCourt could proceed in this way because it understood thata single judicial opinion may resolve a "case or controversy,"and in so doing it may make “effective law” for the parties,but it does not legislate for the whole of the country and isnot to be confused with laws that do.CFrom all this, I see at least three lessons about the doc-trine of stare decisis relevant to the decision before us today.Each concerns a form of judicial humility.Une-First, a past decision may bind the parties to a dispute,but it provides this Court no authority in future cases todepart from what the Constitution or laws of the UnitedStates ordain. Instead, the Constitution promises, theAmerican people are sovereign and they alone may,through democratically responsive processes, amend ourfoundational charter or revise federal legislation.lected judges enjoy no such power. Part I-B, supra.Recognizing as much, this Court has often said that staredecisis is not an “inexorable command.”” State Oil Co. v.Khan, 522 U. S. 3, 20 (1997). And from time to time it hasfound it necessary to correct its past mistakes. When itcomes to correcting errors of constitutional interpretation,the Court has stressed the importance of doing so, for they

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (56)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)9GORSUCH, J., concurringcan be corrected otherwise only through the amendmentprocess. See, e.g., Franchise Tax Bd. of Cal. v. Hyatt, 587U. S. 230, 248 (2019). When it comes to fixing errors of stat-utory interpretation, the Court has proceeded perhaps morecirc*mspectly. But in that field, too, it has overruled evenlongstanding but “flawed" decisions. See, e.g., Leegin Crea-tive Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc., 551 U. S. 877, 904,907 (2007).Recent history illustrates all this. During the tenures ofChief Justices Warren and Burger, it seems this Court over-ruled an average of around three cases per Term, includingroughly 50 statutory precedents between the 1960s and1980s alone. See W. Eskridge, Overruling Statutory Prec-edents, 76 Geo. L. J. 1361, 1427-1434 (1988) (collectingcases). Many of these decisions came in settings no lessconsequential than today's. In recent years, we have notapproached the pace set by our predecessors, overruling anaverage of just one or two prior decisions each Term.¹ Butthe point remains: Judicial decisions inconsistent with thewritten law do not inexorably control.Second, another lesson tempers the first. While judicialdecisions may not supersede or revise the Constitution orfederal statutory law, they merit our “respect as embodyingthe considered views of those who have come before." Ra-mos v. Louisiana, 590 U. S. 83, 105 (2020). As a matter ofprofessional responsibility, a judge must not only avoid con-fusing his writings with the law. When a case comes beforehim, he must also weigh his view of what the law demandsagainst the thoughtful views of his predecessors. After all,"[p]recedent is a way of accumulating and passing down thelearning of past generations, a font of established wisdom1 For relevant databases of decisions, see Congressional Research Ser-vice, Table of Supreme Court Decisions Overruled by Subsequent Deci-sions, Constitution Annotated,; see also H. Spaeth et al., 2023 Supreme Court Da-tabase,

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (57)

10LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOGORSUCH, J., concurringricher than what can be found in any single judge or panelof judges." Precedent 9.Doubtless, past judicial decisions may, as they alwayshave, command “greater or less authority as precedents, ac-cording to circ*mstances." Lincoln Speech 401. But, likeEnglish judges before us, we have long turned to familiarconsiderations to guide our assessment of the weight due apast decision. So, for example, as this Court has put it, theweight due a precedent may depend on the quality of itsreasoning, its consistency with related decisions, its worka-bility, and reliance interests that have formed around it.See Ramos, 590 U. S., at 106. The first factor recognizesthat the primary power of any precedent lies in its power topersuade and poorly reasoned decisions may not providereliable evidence of the law's meaning. The second factorreflects the fact that a precedent is more likely to be correctand worthy of respect when it reflects the time-tested wis-dom of generations than when it sits “unmoored" from sur-rounding law. Ibid. The remaining factors, like workabilityand reliance, do not often supply reason enough on theirown to abide a flawed decision, for almost any past decisionis likely to benefit some group eager to keep things as theyare and content with how things work. See, e.g., id., at 108.But these factors can sometimes serve functions similar tothe others, by pointing to clues that may suggest a past de-cision is right in ways not immediately obvious to the indi-vidual judge.When asking whether to follow or depart from a prece-dent, some judges deploy adverbs. They speak of whetheror not a precedent qualifies as “demonstrably erroneous,”Gamble v. United States, 587 U.S. 678, 711 (2019)(THOMAS, J., concurring), or “egregiously wrong," Ramos,590 U. S., at 121 (KAVANAUGH, J., concurring in part). Butthe emphasis the adverb imparts is not meant for dramaticeffect. It seeks to serve instead as a reminder of a moresubstantive lesson. The lesson that, in assessing the weight

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (58)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)11GORSUCH, J., concurringdue a past decision, a judge is not to be guided by his ownimpression alone, but must self-consciously test his viewsagainst those who have come before, open to the possibilitythat a precedent might be correct in ways not initially ap-parent to him.Third, it would be a mistake to read judicial opinions likestatutes. Adopted through a robust and democratic process,statutes often apply in all their particulars to all persons.By contrast, when judges reach a decision in our adversar-ial system, they render a judgment based only on the fac-tual record and legal arguments the parties at hand havechosen to develop. A later court assessing a past decisionmust therefore appreciate the possibility that differentfacts and different legal arguments may dictate a differentoutcome. They must appreciate, too, that, like anyone else,judges are "innately digressive," and their opinions maysometimes offer stray asides about a wider topic that maysound nearly like legislative commands. Duxbury 4. Often,enterprising counsel seek to exploit such statements tomaximum effect. See id., at 25. But while these digressionsmay sometimes contain valuable counsel, they remain “va-pours and fumes of law," Bacon 478, and cannot "control thejudgment in a subsequent suit," Cohens, 6 Wheat., at 399.These principles, too, have long guided this Court andothers. As Judge Easterbrook has put it, an “opinion is nota comprehensive code; it is just an explanation for theCourt's disposition. Judicial opinions must not be confusedwith statutes, and general expressions must be read in lightof the subject under consideration." United States v.Skoien, 614 F. 3d 638, 640 (CA7 2010) (en banc); see alsoReiter v. Sonotone Corp., 442 U. S. 330, 341 (1979) (stress-ing that an opinion is not “a statute,” and its languageshould not "be parsed" as if it were); Nevada v. Hicks, 533U. S. 353, 372 (2001) (same). If stare decisis counsels re-spect for the thinking of those who have come before, it alsocounsels against doing an “injustice to [their] memory" by

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (59)

12LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOGORSUCH, J., concurringoverreliance on their every word. Steel, 1 Bl. H., at 53, 126Eng. Rep., at 33. As judges, “[w]e neither expect nor hopethat our successors will comb" through our opinions,searching for delphic answers to matters we never fully ex-plored. Brown v. Davenport, 596 U. S. 118, 141 (2022). Toproceed otherwise risks “turn[ing] stare decisis from a toolof judicial humility into one of judicial hubris." Ibid.IITurning now directly to the question what stare decisiseffect Chevron deference warrants, each of these lessonsseem to me to weigh firmly in favor of the course the Courtcharts today: Lesson 1, because Chevron deference contra-venes the law Congress prescribed in the AdministrativeProcedure Act. Lesson 2, because Chevron deference runsagainst mainstream currents in our law regarding the sep-aration of powers, due process, and centuries-old interpre-tive rules that fortify those constitutional commitments.And Lesson 3, because to hold otherwise would effectivelyrequire us to endow stray statements in Chevron with theauthority of statutory language, all while ignoring moreconsidered language in that same decision and the teach-ings of experience.AStart with Lesson 1. The Administrative Procedure Actof 1946 (APA) directs a “reviewing court” to “decide all rel-evant questions of law” and “interpret" relevant "constitu-tional and statutory provisions.” 5 U. S. C. §706. When ap-plying Chevron deference, reviewing courts do not interpretall relevant statutory provisions and decide all relevantquestions of law. Instead, judges abdicate a large measureof that responsibility in favor of agency officials. Their in-terpretations of “ambiguous” laws control even when thoseinterpretations are at odds with the fairest reading of thelaw an independent “reviewing court” can muster. Agency

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (60)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)13GORSUCH, J., concurringofficials, too, may change their minds about the law's mean-ing at any time, even when Congress has not amended therelevant statutory language in any way. National Cable &Telecommunications Assn. v. Brand X Internet Services, 545U. S. 967, 982–983 (2005). And those officials may even dis-agree with and effectively overrule not only their own pastinterpretations of a law but a court's past interpretation aswell. Ibid. None of that is consistent with the APA's clearmandate.The hard fact is Chevron "did not even bother to cite" theAPA, let alone seek to apply its terms. United States v.Mead Corp., 533 U. S. 218, 241 (2001) (Scalia, J., dissent-ing). Instead, as even its most ardent defenders have con-ceded, Chevron deference rests upon a “fictionalized state-ment of legislative desire," namely, a judicial suppositionthat Congress implicitly wishes judges to defer to executiveagencies' interpretations of the law even when it has saidnothing of the kind. D. Barron & E. Kagan, Chevron's Non-delegation Doctrine, 2001 S. Ct. Rev. 201, 212 (Kagan) (em-phasis added). As proponents see it, that fiction representsa “policy judgmen[t] about what . . . make[s] for good gov-ernment." Ibid.2 But in our democracy unelected judgespossess no authority to elevate their own fictions over thelaws adopted by the Nation's elected representatives. Somemight think the legal directive Congress provided in theAPA unwise; some might think a different arrangementpreferable. See, e.g., post, at 9-11 (KAGAN, J., dissenting).But it is Congress's view of "good government,” not ours,that controls.2 See also A. Scalia, Judicial Deference to Administrative Interpreta-tions of Law, 1989 Duke L. J. 511, 516–517 (1989) (describing Chevron'stheory that Congress “delegat[ed]" interpretive authority to agencies as“fictional"); S. Breyer, Judicial Review of Questions of Law and Policy,38 Admin. L. Rev. 363, 370 (1986) (describing the notion that there existsa "legislative intent to delegate the law-interpreting function' as a kindof legal fiction").

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (61)

14LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOGORSUCH, J., concurringMuch more could be said about Chevron's inconsistencywith the APA. But I have said it in the past. See Buffingtonv. McDonough, 598 U. S.(2022) (opinion dis-senting from denial of certiorari) (slip op., at 5-6);Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, 834 F. 3d 1142, 1151–1153(CA10 2016) (concurring opinion). And the Court makesmany of the same points at length today. See ante, at 18-22. For present purposes, the short of it is that continuingto abide Chevron deference would require us to transgressthe first lesson of stare decisis—the humility required ofjudges to recognize that our decisions must yield to the lawsadopted by the people's elected representatives.³BLesson 2 cannot rescue Chevron deference. If stare deci-sis calls for judicial humility in the face of the written law,it also cautions us to test our present conclusions carefullyagainst the work of our predecessors. At the same time andas we have seen, this second form of humility counsels us toremember that precedents that have won the endorsem*ntof judges across many generations, demonstrated coherencewith our broader law, and weathered the tests of time andexperience are entitled to greater consideration than thosethat have not. See Part I, supra. Viewed by each of theselights, the case for Chevron deference only grows weakerstill.3 The dissent suggests that we need not take the APA's directions quiteso seriously because the "finest administrative law scholars” from Har-vard claim to see in them some wiggle room. Post, at 18 (opinion ofKAGAN, J.). But nothing in the APA commands deference to the views ofprofessors any more than it does the government. Nor is the dissent'slist of Harvard's finest administrative law scholars entirely complete.See S. Breyer et al., Administrative Law and Regulatory Policy 288 (7thed. 2011) (acknowledging that Chevron deference “seems in conflict withthe apparently contrary language of 706"); Kagan 212 (likewise ac-knowledging Chevron deference rests upon a “fictionalized statement oflegislative desire").

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (62)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)15GORSUCH, J., concurring1Start with a look to how our predecessors traditionallyunderstood the judicial role in disputes over a law's mean-ing. From the Nation's founding, they considered “[t]he in-terpretation of the laws" in cases and controversies "theproper and peculiar province of the courts." The FederalistNo. 78, p. 467 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961) (A. Hamilton). Perhapsthe Court's most famous early decision reflected exactlythat view. There, Chief Justice Marshall declared it "em-phatically the province and duty of the judicial departmentto say what the law is.” Marbury, 1 Cranch, at 177. Forjudges "have neither FORCE nor WILL but merely judg-ment" and an obligation to exercise that judgment inde-pendently. The Federalist No. 78, at 465. No matter how“disagreeable that duty may be," this Court has said, ajudge “is not at liberty to surrender, or to waive it." UnitedStates v. Dickson, 15 Pet. 141, 162 (1841) (Story, J.). Thisduty of independent judgment is perhaps “the definingcharacteristi[c] of Article III judges." Stern v. Marshall, 564U. S. 462, 483 (2011).To be sure, this Court has also long extended "great re-spect" to the "contemporaneous" and consistent views of thecoordinate branches about the meaning of a statute's terms.Edwards' Lessee v. Darby, 12 Wheat. 206, 210 (1827); seealso McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 401 (1819); Stu-art v. Laird, 1 Cranch 299, 309 (1803).4 But traditionally,that did not mean a court had to “defer” to any “reasonable”4 Accord, National Lead Co. v. United States, 252 U. S. 140, 145-146(1920) (affording "great weight" to a "contemporaneous construction" bythe executive that had "been long continued"); Jacobs v. Prichard, 223U. S. 200, 214 (1912) (“find[ing] no ambiguity in the act" but also finding"strength" for the Court's interpretation in the executive's "immediateand continued construction of the act"); Schell's Executors v. Fauché, 138U. S. 562, 572 (1891) (treating as "controlling" a "contemporaneous con-struction" of a law endorsed “not only [by] the courts but [also by] thedepartments").

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (63)

16LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOGORSUCH, J., concurringconstruction of an “ambiguous" law that an executiveagency might offer. It did not mean that the governmentcould propound a “reasonable” view of the law's meaningone day, a different one the next, and bind the judiciary al-ways to its latest word. Nor did it mean the executive coulddisplace a pre-existing judicial construction of a statute'sterms, replace it with its own, and effectively overrule a ju-dicial precedent in the process. Put simply, this Court was"not bound" by any and all reasonable “administrative con-struction[s]” of ambiguous statutes when resolving casesand controversies. Burnet v. Chicago Portrait Co., 285 U. S.1, 16 (1932). While the executive's consistent and contem-poraneous views warranted respect, they “by no means con-trol[led] the action or the opinion of this court in expound-ing the law with reference to the rights of parties litigantbefore them." Irvine v. Marshall, 20 How. 558, 567 (1858);see also A. Bamzai, The Origins of Judicial Deference to Ex-ecutive Interpretation, 126 Yale L. J. 908, 987 (2017).Sensing how jarringly inconsistent Chevron is with thisCourt's many longstanding precedents discussing the na-ture of the judicial role in disputes over the law's meaning,the government and dissent struggle for a response. Thebest they can muster is a handful of cases from the early1940s in which, they say, this Court first “put [deference]principles into action." Post, at 21 (KAGAN, J., dissenting).And, admittedly, for a period this Court toyed with a formof deference akin to Chevron, at least for so-called mixedquestions of law and fact. See, e.g., Gray v. Powell, 314U. S. 402, 411-412 (1941); NLRB v. Hearst Publications,Inc., 322 U. S. 111, 131 (1944). But, as the Court details,even that limited experiment did not last. See ante, at 10–12. Justice Roberts, in his Gray dissent, decried these de-cisions for “abdicat[ing our] function as a court of review"and "complete [ly] revers[ing] ... the normal and usualmethod of construing a statute." 314 U. S., at 420–421.And just a few years later, in Skidmore v. Swift & Co., 323

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (64)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)17GORSUCH, J., concurringU. S. 134 (1944), the Court returned to its time-worn path.Echoing themes that had run throughout our law from itsstart, Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote for the Court inSkidmore. There, he said, courts may extend respectfulconsideration to another branch's interpretation of the law,but the weight due those interpretations must always “de-pend upon the[ir] thoroughness ..., the validity of [their]reasoning, [their] consistency with earlier and later pro-nouncements, and all those factors which give [them] powerto persuade." Id., at 140. In another case the same year,and again writing for the Court, Justice Jackson expresslyrejected a call for a judge-made doctrine of deference muchlike Chevron, offering that, “[i]f Congress had deemed itnecessary or even appropriate" for courts to "defe[r] to ad-ministrative construction[,] . . . it would not have been at aloss for words to say so." Davies Warehouse Co. v. Bowles,321 U. S. 144, 156 (1944).To the extent proper respect for precedent demands, as italways has, special respect for longstanding and main-stream decisions, Chevron scores badly. It represented nota continuation of a long line of decisions but a break fromthem. Worse, it did not merely depart from our precedents.More nearly, Chevron defied them.2Consider next how uneasily Chevron deference sits along-side so many other settled aspects of our law. Having wit-nessed first-hand King George's efforts to gain influenceand control over colonial judges, see Declaration of Inde-pendence 11, the framers made a considered judgment tobuild judicial independence into the Constitution's design.They vested the judicial power in decisionmakers with lifetenure. Art. III, §1. They placed the judicial salary beyondpolitical control during a judge's tenure. Ibid. And theyrejected any proposal that would subject judicial decisionsto review by political actors. The Federalist No. 81, at 482;

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (65)

18LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOGORSUCH, J., concurringUnited States v. Hansen, 599 U. S. 762, 786-791 (2023)(THOMAS, J., concurring). All of this served to ensure thesame thing: "A fair trial in a fair tribunal." In re Murchi-son, 349 U. S. 133, 136 (1955). One in which impartialjudges, not those currently wielding power in the politicalbranches, would “say what the law is” in cases coming tocourt. Marbury, 1 Cranch, at 177.Chevron deference undermines all that. It precludescourts from exercising the judicial power vested in them byArticle III to say what the law is. It forces judges to aban-don the best reading of the law in favor of views of thosepresently holding the reins of the Executive Branch. It re-quires judges to change, and change again, their interpre-tations of the law as and when the government demands.And that transfer of power has exactly the sort of conse-quences one might expect. Rather than insulate adjudica-tion from power and politics to ensure a fair hearing “with-out respect to persons” as the federal judicial oath demands,28 U. S. C. §453, Chevron deference requires courts to"place a finger on the scales of justice in favor of the mostpowerful of litigants, the federal government.” Buffington,598 U. S., at (slip op., at 9). Along the way, Chevrondeference guarantees “systematic bias" in favor of which-ever political party currently holds the levers of executivepower. P. Hamburger, Chevron Bias, 84 Geo. Wash. L. Rev.1187, 1212 (2016).999Chevron deference undermines other aspects of our set-tled law, too. In this country, we often boast that the Con-stitution's promise of due process of law, see Amdts. 5, 14,means that "no man can be a judge in his own case.' Wil-liams v. Pennsylvania, 579 U. S. 1, 8–9 (2016); Calder v.Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 388 (1798) (opinion of Chase, J.). Thatprinciple, of course, has even deeper roots, tracing far backinto the common law where it was known by the Latinmaxim nemo iudex in causa sua. See 1 E. co*ke, Institutes

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (66)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)1992GORSUCH, J., concurringof the Laws of England §212, *141a. Yet, under the Chev-ron regime, all that means little, for executive agencies mayeffectively judge the scope of their own lawful powers. See,e.g., Arlington v. FCC, 569 U. S. 290, 296–297 (2013).Traditionally, as well, courts have sought to construestatutes as a reasonable reader would "when the law wasmade." Blackstone 59; see United States v. Fisher, 2 Cranch358, 386 (1805). Today, some call this “textualism." Butreally it's a very old idea, one that constrains judges to alawfinding rather than lawmaking role by focusing theirwork on the statutory text, its linguistic context, and vari-ous canons of construction. In that way, textualism servesas an essential guardian of the due process promise of fairnotice. If a judge could discard an old meaning and assigna new one to a law's terms, all without any legislative revi-sion, how could people ever be sure of the rules that bindthem? New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira, 586 U. S. 105, 113(2019). Were the rules otherwise, Blackstone warned, thepeople would be rendered “slaves to their magistrates."4 Blackstone 371.Yet, replace "magistrates" with "bureaucrats," and Black-stone's fear becomes reality when courts employ Chevrondeference. Whenever we confront an ambiguity in the law,judges do not seek to resolve it impartially according to thebest evidence of the law's original meaning. Instead, we re-sort to a far cruder heuristic: “The reasonable bureaucratalways wins." And because the reasonable bureaucrat maychange his mind year-to-year and election-to-election, thepeople can never know with certainty what new "interpre-tations” might be used against them. This “fluid” approachto statutory interpretation is "as much a trap for the inno-cent as the ancient laws of Caligula,” which were posted sohigh up on the walls and in print so small that ordinarypeople could never be sure what they required. UnitedStates v. Cardiff, 344 U. S. 174, 176 (1952).

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (67)

20LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOGORSUCH, J., concurringThe ancient rule of lenity is still another of Chevron's vic-tims. Since the founding, American courts have construedambiguities in penal laws against the government and withlenity toward affected persons. Wooden v. United States,595 U. S. 360, 388–390 (2022) (GORSUCH, J., concurring injudgment). That principle upholds due process by safe-guarding individual liberty in the face of ambiguous laws.Ibid. And it fortifies the separation of powers by keepingthe power of punishment firmly “in the legislative, not inthe judicial department."" Id., at 391 (quoting UnitedStates v. Wiltberger, 5 Wheat. 76, 95 (1820)). But powerbegets power. And pressing Chevron deference as far as itcan go, the government has sometimes managed to leverage“ambiguities” in the written law to penalize conduct Con-gress never clearly proscribed. Compare Guedes v. ATF,920 F. 3d 1, 27-28, 31 (CADC 2019), with Garland v. Car-gill, 602 U. S. 604 (2024).In all these ways, Chevron's fiction has led us to a strangeplace. One where authorities long thought reserved for Ar-ticle III are transferred to Article II, where the scales of jus-tice are tilted systematically in favor of the most powerful,where legal demands can change with every election eventhough the laws do not, and where the people are left toguess about their legal rights and responsibilities. So muchtension with so many foundational features of our legal or-der is surely one more sign that we have "taken a wrongturn along the way." Kisor v. Wilkie, 588 U. S. 558, 607(2019) (GORSUCH, J., concurring in judgment).55 The dissent suggests that Chevron deference bears at least somethingin common with surrounding law because it resembles a presumption ortraditional canon of construction, and both "are common." Post, at 8, n. 1,28-29 (opinion of KAGAN, J.). But even that thin reed wavers at a glance.Many of the presumptions and interpretive canons the dissent cites―including lenity, contra proferentem, and others besides—“embod[y] . . .legal doctrine[s] centuries older than our Republic."" Opati v. Republicof Sudan, 590 U. S. 418, 425 (2020). Chevron deference can make nosuch boast. Many of the presumptions and canons the dissent cites also

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (68)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)2112GORSUCH, J., concurring3Finally, consider workability and reliance. If, as I havesought to suggest, these factors may sometimes serve asuseful proxies for the question whether a precedent com-ports with the historic tide of judicial practice or representsan aberrational mistake, see Part I-C, supra, they certainlydo here.Take Chevron's "workability.” Throughout its short life,this Court has been forced to supplement and revise Chev-ron so many times that no one can agree on how many"steps" it requires, nor even what each of those “steps" en-tails. Some suggest that the analysis begins with "stepzero" (perhaps itself a tell), an innovation that traces toUnited States v. Mead Corp., 533 U. S. 218. Mead held that,before even considering whether Chevron applies, a courtmust determine whether Congress meant to delegate to theagency authority to interpret the law in a given field. 533U. S., at 226–227. But that exercise faces an immediatechallenge: Because Chevron depends on a judicially im-plied, rather than a legislatively expressed, delegation ofinterpretive authority to an executive agency, Part II-A, su-pra, when should the fiction apply and when not? Meadfashioned a multifactor test for judges to use. 533 U. S., atserve the Constitution, protecting the lines of authority it draws. Takejust two examples: The federalism canon tells courts to presume federalstatutes do not preempt state laws because of the sovereignty States en-joy under the Constitution. Bond v. United States, 572 U. S. 844, 858(2014). The presumption against retroactivity serves as guardian of theConstitution's promise of due process and its ban on ex post facto laws,Landgraf v. USI Film Products, 511 U. S. 244, 265 (1994). Once more,however, Chevron deference can make no similar claim. Rather thanserve the Constitution's usual rule that litigants are entitled to have anindependent judge interpret disputed legal terms, Chevron deferenceworks to undermine that promise. As explored above, too, Chevron def-erence sits in tension with many traditional legal presumptions and in-terpretive principles, representing nearly the inverse of the rules of len-ity, nemo iudex, and contra proferentem.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (69)

2222LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOGORSUCH, J., concurring229–231. But that test has proved as indeterminate in ap-plication as it was contrived in origin. Perhaps for thesereasons, perhaps for others, this Court has sometimes ap-plied Mead and often ignored it. See Brand X, 545 U. S., at1014, n. 8 (Scalia, J., dissenting).Things do not improve as we move up the Chevron ladder.At “step one," a judge must defer to an executive official'sinterpretation when the statute at hand is “ambiguous."But even today, Chevron's principal beneficiary—the fed-eral government—still cannot say when a statute is suffi-ciently ambiguous to trigger deference. See, e.g., Tr. of OralArg. in American Hospital Assn. v. Becerra, O. T. 2021,No. 20-1114, pp. 71–72. Perhaps thanks to this particularconfusion, the search for ambiguity has devolved into a sortof Snark hunt: Some judges claim to spot it almost every-where, while other equally fine judges claim never to haveseen it. Compare L. Silberman, Chevron-The Intersectionof Law & Policy, 58 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 821, 826 (1990), withR. Kethledge, Ambiguities and Agency Cases: ReflectionsAfter (Almost) Ten Years on the Bench, 70 Vand. L. Rev. EnBanc 315, 323 (2017).Nor do courts agree when it comes to “step two." There,a judge must assess whether an executive agency's inter-pretation of an ambiguous statute is "reasonable." Butwhat does that inquiry demand? Some courts engage in acomparatively searching review; others almost reflexivelydefer to an agency's views. Here again, courts have pursued"wildly different” approaches and reached wildly differentconclusions in similar cases. See B. Kavanaugh, FixingStatutory Interpretation, 129 Harv. L. Rev. 2118, 2152(2016) (Kavanaugh).Today's cases exemplify some of these problems. We havebefore us two circuit decisions, three opinions, and at leastas many interpretive options on the Chevron menu. On theone hand, we have the D. C. Circuit majority, which deemedthe Magnuson-Stevens Act “ambiguous” and upheld the

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (70)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)23GORSUCH, J., concurringagency's regulation as "permissible."" 45 F. 4th 359, 365(2022). On the other hand, we have the D. C. Circuit dis-sent, which argues the statute is “unambiguou[s]" and thatit plainly forecloses the agency's new rule. Id., at 372 (opin-ion of Walker, J.). And on yet a third hand, we have theFirst Circuit, which claimed to have identified "clear tex-tual support" for the regulation, yet refused to say whetherit would "classify [its] conclusion as a product of Chevronstep one or step two." 62 F. 4th 621, 631, 634 (2023). Asthese cases illustrate, Chevron has turned statutory inter-pretation into a game of bingo under blindfold, with partiesguessing at how many boxes there are and which one theircase might ultimately fall in.Turn now from workability to reliance. Far from engen-dering reliance interests, the whole point of Chevron defer-ence is to upset them. Under Chevron, executive officialscan replace one “reasonable” interpretation with another atany time, all without any change in the law itself. The re-sult: Affected individuals "can never be sure of their legalrights and duties." Buffington, 598 U. S., at (slip op., at12).How bad is the problem? Take just one example. BrandX concerned a law regulating broadband internet services.There, the Court upheld an agency rule adopted by the ad-ministration of President George W. Bush because it waspremised on a “reasonable” interpretation of the statute.Later, President Barack Obama's administration rescindedthe rule and replaced it with another. Later still, duringPresident Donald J. Trump's administration, officials re-placed that rule with a different one, all before PresidentJoseph R. Biden, Jr.'s administration declared its intentionto reverse course for yet a fourth time. See Safeguardingand Securing the Open Internet, 88 Fed. Reg. 76048 (2023);Brand X, 545 U. S., at 981-982. Each time, the governmentclaimed its new rule was just as “reasonable" as the last.Rather than promoting reliance by fixing the meaning of

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (71)

24LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOGORSUCH, J., concurringthe law, Chevron deference engenders constant uncertaintyand convulsive change even when the statute at issue itselfremains unchanged.Nor are these antireliance harms distributed equally. So-phisticated entities and their lawyers may be able to keeppace with rule changes affecting their rights and responsi-bilities. They may be able to lobby for new “reasonable""agency interpretations and even capture the agencies thatissue them. Buffington, 598 U. S., at(slip op., at 8,13). But ordinary people can do none of those things. Theyare the ones who suffer the worst kind of regulatory whip-lash Chevron invites.Consider a couple of examples. Thomas Buffington, a vet-eran of the U. S. Air Force, was injured in the line of duty.For a time after he left the Air Force, the Department ofVeterans Affairs (VA) paid disability benefits due him bylaw. But later the government called on Mr. Buffington toreenter active service. During that period, everyone agreed,the VA could (as it did) suspend his disability payments.After he left active service for a second time, however, theVA turned his patriotism against him. By law, Congresspermitted the VA to suspend disability pay only "for anyperiod for which [a servicemember] receives active servicepay.” 38 U. S. C. §5304(c). But the VA had adopted a self-serving regulation requiring veterans to file a form askingfor the resumption of their disability pay after a second (orsubsequent) stint in active service. 38 CFR §3.654(b)(2)(2021). Unaware of the regulation, Mr. Buffington failed toreapply immediately. When he finally figured out what hadhappened and reapplied, the VA agreed to resume pay-ments going forward but refused to give Mr. Buffington allof the past disability payments it had withheld. Buffington,598 U. S., at(slip op., at 1-4).Mr. Buffington challenged the agency's action as incon-sistent with Congress's direction that the VA may suspenddisability payments only for those periods when a veteran

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (72)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)25GORSUCH, J., concurringreturns to active service. But armed with Chevron, theagency defeated Mr. Buffington's claim. Maybe the self-serving regulation the VA cited as justification for its actionwas not premised on the best reading of the law, courts said,but it represented a “permissible”” one. 598 U. S., at(slip op., at 7). In that way, the Executive Branch was ableto evade Congress's promises to someone who took the fieldrepeatedly in the Nation's defense.In another case, one which I heard as a court of appealsjudge, De Niz Robles v. Lynch, 803 F. 3d 1165 (CA10 2015),the Board of Immigration Appeals invoked Chevron to over-rule a judicial precedent on which many immigrants hadrelied, see In re Briones, 24 I. & N. Dec. 355, 370 (BIA 2007)(purporting to overrule Padilla-Caldera v. Gonzales, 426F.3d 1294 (CA10 2005)). The agency then sought to applyits new interpretation retroactively to punish those immi-grants including Alfonzo De Niz Robles, who had relied onthat judicial precedent as authority to remain in this coun-try with his U. S. wife and four children. See 803 F. 3d, at1168-1169. Our court ruled that this retrospective applica-tion of the BIA's new interpretation of the law violated Mr.De Niz Robles's due process rights. Id., at 1172. But as alower court, we could treat only the symptom, not the dis-ease. So Chevron permitted the agency going forward tooverrule a judicial decision about the best reading of the lawwith its own different "reasonable" one and in that waydeny relief to countless future immigrants.Those are just two stories among so many that federaljudges could tell (and have told) about what Chevron defer-ence has meant for ordinary people interacting with the fed-eral government. See, e.g., Lambert v. Saul, 980 F.3d 1266,1268-1276 (CA9 2020); Valent v. Commissioner of SocialSecurity, 918 F.3d 516, 525–527 (CA6 2019) (Kethledge, J.,dissenting); Gonzalez v. United States Atty. Gen., 820 F. 3d399, 402-405 (CA11 2016) (per curiam).What does the federal government have to say about this?

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (73)

26LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOGORSUCH, J., concurringIt acknowledges that Chevron sits as a heavy weight on thescale in favor of the government, “oppositional" to many"categories of individuals.” Tr. of Oral Arg. in No. 22-1219,p. 133 (Relentless Tr.). But, according to the government,Chevron deference is too important an innovation to undo.In its brief reign, the government says, it has become a "fun-damenta [1] . . ground rul[e] for how all three branches ofthe government are operating together." Relentless Tr.102. But, in truth, the Constitution, the APA, and ourlongstanding precedents set those ground rules some timeago. And under them, agencies cannot invoke a judge-madefiction to unsettle our Nation's promise to individuals thatthey are entitled to make their arguments about the law'sdemands on them in a fair hearing, one in which they standon equal footing with the government before an independ-ent judge.CHow could a Court, guided for 200 years by Chief JusticeMarshall's example, come to embrace a counter-Marburyrevolution, one at war with the APA, time honored prece-dents, and so much surrounding law? To answer thesequestions, turn to Lesson 3 and witness the temptation toendow a stray passage in a judicial decision with extraordi-nary authority. Call it "power quoting."Chevron was an unlikely place for a revolution to begin.The case concerned the Clean Air Act's requirement thatStates regulate “stationary sources" of air pollution in theirborders. See 42 U. S. C. §7401 et seq. At the time, it wasan open question whether entire industrial plants or theirconstituent polluting parts counted as “stationary sources."The Environmental Protection Agency had defined entireplants as sources, an approach that allowed companies toreplace individual plant parts without automatically trig-gering the permitting requirements that apply to newsources. Chevron, 467 U. S., at 840.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (74)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)27GORSUCH, J., concurringThis Court upheld the EPA's definition as consistent withthe governing statute. Id., at 866. The decision, issued bya bare quorum of the Court, without concurrence or dissent,purported to apply "well-settled principles.” Id., at 845. “Ifa court, employing traditional tools of statutory construc-tion, ascertains that Congress had an intention on the pre-cise question at issue," Chevron provided, then "that inten-tion is the law and must be given effect." Id., at 843, n. 9.Many of the cases Chevron cited to support its judgmentstood for the traditional proposition that courts afford re-spectful consideration, not deference, to executive interpre-tations of the law. See, e.g., Burnet, 285 U. S., at 16; UnitedStates v. Moore, 95 U. S. 760, 763 (1878). And the decision'ssole citation to legal scholarship was to Roscoe Pound, wholong championed de novo judicial review. 467 U. S., at 843,n. 10; see R. Pound, The Place of the Judiciary in a Demo-cratic Polity, 27 A. B. A. J. 133, 136–137 (1941).At the same time, of course, the opinion contained bitsand pieces that spoke differently. The decision also saidthat, “if [a] statute is silent or ambiguous with respect to [a]specific issue, the question for the court is whether theagency's answer is based on a permissible construction ofthe statute." 467 U. S., at 843. But it seems the govern-ment didn't advance this formulation in its brief, so therewas no adversarial engagement on it. T. Merrill, The Storyof Chevron: The Making of an Accidental Landmark, 66 Ad-min. L. Rev. 253, 268 (2014) (Merrill). As we have seen, too,the Court did not pause to consider (or even mention) theAPA. See Part II-A, supra. It did not discuss contrary prec-edents issued by the Court since the founding, let alone pur-port to overrule any of them. See Part II-B-1, supra. Nordid the Court seek to address how its novel rule of deferencemight be squared with so much surrounding law. See PartII-B-2, supra. As even its defenders have acknowledged,"Chevron barely bothered to justify its rule of deference, andthe few brief passages on this matter pointed in disparate

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (75)

28LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOGORSUCH, J., concurringdirections." Kagan 212–213. "[T]he quality of the reason-ing," they acknowledge, “was not high," C. Sunstein, Chev-ron as Law, 107 Geo. L. J. 1613, 1669 (2019).If Chevron meant to usher in a revolution in how judgesinterpret laws, no one appears to have realized it at thetime. Chevron's author, Justice Stevens, characterized thedecision as a "simpl[e] . . . restatement of existing law, noth-ing more or less." Merrill 255, 275. In the “19 argued cases"in the following Term “that presented some kind of questionabout whether the Court should defer to an agency inter-pretation of statutory law," this Court cited Chevron justonce. Merrill 276. By some accounts, the decision seemed"destined to obscurity." Ibid.It was only three years later when Justice Scalia wrote aconcurrence that a revolution began to take shape. Buff-ington, 598 U. S., at (slip op., at 8). There, he arguedfor a new rule requiring courts to defer to executive agencyinterpretations of the law whenever a “statute is silent orambiguous."" NLRB v. Food & Commercial Workers,484 U. S. 112, 133–134 (1987) (opinion of Scalia, J.). Even-tually, a majority of the Court followed his lead. Buffington,598 U. S., at (slip op., at 8). But from the start, JusticeScalia made no secret about the scope of his ambitions. SeeJudicial Deference to Administrative Interpretations ofLaw, 1989 Duke L. J. 511, 521 (1989) (Scalia). The rule headvocated for represented such a sharp break from priorpractice, he explained, that many judges of his day didn'tyet "understand” the “old criteria” were “no longer rele-vant.” Ibid. Still, he said, overthrowing the past was worthit because a new deferential rule would be “easier to follow."Ibid.Events proved otherwise. As the years wore on and theCourt's new and aggressive reading of Chevron graduallyexposed itself as unworkable, unfair, and at odds with ourseparation of powers, Justice Scalia could have doubleddown on the project. But he didn't. He appreciated that

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (76)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)2929GORSUCH, J., concurringstare decisis is not a rule of “if I thought it yesterday, I mustthink it tomorrow." And rather than cling to the pride ofpersonal precedent, the Justice began to express doubtsover the very project that he had worked to build. See Perezv. Mortgage Bankers Assn., 575 U. S. 92, 109–110 (2015)(opinion concurring in judgment); cf. Decker v. NorthwestEnvironmental Defense Center, 568 U. S. 597, 617–618, 621(2013) (opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part).If Chevron's ascent is a testament to the Justice's ingenuity,its demise is an even greater tribute to his humility.6con-Justice Scalia was not alone in his reconsideration. Afteryears spent laboring under Chevron, trying to make senseof it and make it work, Member after Member of this Courtcame to question the project. See, e.g., Pereira v. Sessions,585 U. S. 198, 219–221 (2018) (Kennedy, J., concurring);Michigan v. EPA, 576 U. S. 743, 760-764 (2015) (THOMAS,J., concurring); Kisor, 588 U. S., at 591 (ROBERTS, C. J., ccurring in part); Gutierrez-Brizuela, 834 F. 3d, at 1153;Buffington, 598 U. S., at(slip op., at 14-15); Ka-vanaugh 2150–2154. Ultimately, the Court gave up. De-spite repeated invitations, it has not applied Chevron def-erence since 2016. Relentless Tr. 81; App. to Brief forRespondents in No. 22–1219, p. 68a. So an experiment thatbegan only in the mid-1980s effectively ended eight yearsago. Along the way, an unusually large number of federalappellate judges voiced their own thoughtful and extensive6 It should be recalled that, when Justice Scalia launched the Chevronrevolution, there were many judges who “abhor[red] . . . ‘plain meaning””and preferred instead to elevate “legislative history" and their own cu-rated accounts of a law's "purpose[s]" over enacted statutory text. Scalia515, 521. Chevron, he predicted, would provide a new guardrail againstthat practice. Scalia 515, 521. As the Justice's later writings show, hehad the right diagnosis, just the wrong cure. The answer for judges elid-ing statutory terms is not deference to agencies that may seek to do thesame, but a demand that all return to a more faithful adherence to thewritten law. That was, of course, another project Justice Scalia champi-oned. And as we like to say, "we're all textualists now."

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (77)

30LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOGORSUCH, J., concurringcriticisms of Chevron. Buffington, 598 U. S., at(slip op., at 14-15) (collecting examples). A number of statecourts did, too, refusing to import Chevron deference intotheir own administrative law jurisprudence. See 598 U. S.,at (slip op., at 15).Even if all that and everything else laid out above is true,the government suggests we should retain Chevron defer-ence because judges simply cannot live without it; somestatutes are just too “technical" for courts to interpret "in-telligently." Post, at 9, 32 (dissenting opinion). But thatobjection is no answer to Chevron's inconsistency with Con-gress's directions in the APA, so much surrounding law, orthe challenges its multistep regime have posed in practice.Nor does history counsel such defeatism. Surely, it wouldbe a mistake to suggest our predecessors before Chevron'srise in the mid-1980s were unable to make their way intel-ligently through technical statutory disputes. Followingtheir lead, over the past eight years this Court has managedto resolve even highly complex cases without Chevron def-erence, and done so even when the government sought def-erence. Nor, as far as I am aware, did any Member of theCourt suggest Chevron deference was necessary to an intel-ligent resolution of any of those matters.7 If anything, byaffording Chevron deference a period of repose before ad-dressing whether it should be retained, the Court has ena-bled its Members to test the propriety of that precedent andreflect more deeply on how well it fits into the broader ar-chitecture of our law. Others may see things differently,see post, at 26-27 (dissenting opinion), but the caution the7 See, e.g., Becerra v. Empire Health Foundation, for Valley HospitalMedical Center, 597 U. S. 424, 434 (2022) (resolving intricate Medicaredispute by reference solely to “text,” “context,” and “structure"); see alsoSackett v. EPA, 598 U. S. 651 (2023) (same in a complex Clean Water Actdispute); Johnson v. Guzman Chavez, 594 U. S. 523 (2021) (same in tech-nical immigration case).

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (78)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)31GORSUCH, J., concurringCourt has exhibited before overruling Chevron may illus-trate one of the reasons why the current Court has beenslower to overrule precedents than some of its predecessors,see Part I-C, supra.None of this, of course, discharges any Member of thisCourt from the task of deciding for himself or herself todaywhether Chevron deference itself warrants deference. Butwhen so many past and current judicial colleagues in thisCourt and across the country tell us our doctrine is mis-guided, and when we ourselves managed without Chevronfor centuries and manage to do so today, the humility at thecore of stare decisis compels us to pause and reflect carefullyon the wisdom embodied in that experience. And, in theend, to my mind the lessons of experience counsel wiselyagainst continued reliance on Chevron's stray and uncon-sidered digression. This Court's opinions fill over 500 vol-umes, and perhaps “some printed judicial word may befound to support almost any plausible proposition.” R.Jackson, Decisional Law and Stare Decisis, 30 A. B. A. J.334 (1944). It is not for us to pick and choose passages wehappen to like and demand total obedience to them in per-petuity. That would turn stare decisis from a doctrine ofhumility into a tool for judicial opportunism. Brown, 596U. S., at 141.IIIProper respect for precedent helps “keep the scale of jus-tice even and steady,” by reinforcing decisional rules con-sistent with the law upon which all can rely. 1 Blackstone69. But that respect does not require, nor does it readilytolerate, a steadfast refusal to correct mistakes. As earlyas 1810, this Court had already overruled one of its cases.See Hudson v. Guestier, 6 Cranch 281, 284 (overruling Rosev. Himely, 4 Cranch 241 (1808)). In recent years, the Courtmay have overruled precedents less frequently than it didduring the Warren and Burger Courts. See Part I-C, supra.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (79)

32LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOGORSUCH, J., concurringBut the job of reconsidering past decisions remains oneevery Member of this Court faces from time to time.8Justice William O. Douglas served longer on this Courtthan any other person in the Nation's history. During histenure, he observed how a new colleague might be inclinedinitially to "revere" every word written in an opinion issuedbefore he arrived. W. Douglas, Stare Decisis, 49 Colum. L.Rev. 735, 736 (1949). But, over time, Justice Douglas re-flected, his new colleague would “remembe[r] . . . that it isthe Constitution which he swore to support and defend, notthe gloss which his predecessors may have put on it." Ibid.And "[s]o he [would] com[e] to formulate his own views, re-jecting some earlier ones as false and embracing others."Ibid. This process of reexamination, Justice Douglas ex-plained, is a “necessary consequence of our system" inwhich each judge takes an oath—both “personal” and bind-ing to discern the law's meaning for himself and apply itfaithfully in the cases that come before him. Id., at 736-737.Justice Douglas saw, too, how appeals to precedent couldbe overstated and sometimes even overwrought. Judges, hereflected, would sometimes first issue “new and startlingdecision[s]," and then later spin around and “acquire anacute conservatism” in their aggressive defense of “their8 Today's dissenters are no exceptions. They have voted to overruleprecedents that they consider “wrong,” Hurst v. Florida, 577 U. S. 92,101 (2016) (opinion for the Court by SOTOMAYOR, J., joined by, inter alios,KAGAN, J.); Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U. S. 644, 665, 675 (2015) (opinionfor the Court, joined by, inter alios, SOTOMAYOR and KAGAN, JJ.); thatconflict with the Constitution's “original meaning," Alleyne v. UnitedStates, 570 U. S. 99, 118 (2013) (SOTOMAYOR, J., joined by, inter alias,KAGAN, J., concurring); and that have proved "unworkable," Johnson v.United States, 576 U. S. 591, 605 (2015) (opinion for the Court, joined by,inter alios, SOTOMAYOR and KAGAN, JJ.); see also Erlinger v. UnitedStates, 602 U. S.(2024) (JACKSON, J., dissenting) (slip op., at 1)(arguing Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U. S. 466 (2000), and the manycases applying it were all "wrongly decided").

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (80)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)33GORSUCH, J., concurringnew status quo." Id., at 737. In that way, even the mostnovel and unlikely decisions became "coveted anchor-age[s]," defended heatedly, if ironically, under the bannerof "stare decisis." Ibid.; see also Edwards v. Vannoy, 593U. S. 255, 294, n. 7 (2021) (GORSUCH, J., concurring).That is Chevron's story: A revolution masquerading asthe status quo. And the defense of it follows the samecourse Justice Douglas described. Though our dissentingcolleagues have not hesitated to question other precedentsin the past, they today manifest what Justice Douglascalled an "acute conservatism" for Chevron's “startling” de-velopment, insisting that if this "coveted anchorage" isabandoned the heavens will fall. But the Nation managedto live with busy executive agencies of all sorts long beforethe Chevron revolution began to take shape in the mid-1980s. And all today's decision means is that, going for-ward, federal courts will do exactly as this Court has since2016, exactly as it did before the mid-1980s, and exactly asit had done since the founding: resolve cases and controver-sies without any systemic bias in the government's favor.Proper respect for precedent does not begin to suggestotherwise. Instead, it counsels respect for the written law,adherence to consistent teachings over aberrations, and re-sistance to the temptation of treating our own stray re-marks as if they were statutes. And each of those lessonspoints toward the same conclusion today: Chevron defer-ence is inconsistent with the directions Congress gave us inthe APA. It represents a grave anomaly when viewedagainst the sweep of historic judicial practice. The decisionundermines core rule-of-law values ranging from the prom-ise of fair notice to the promise of a fair hearing. Even onits own terms, it has proved unworkable and operated toundermine rather than advance reliance interests, often tothe detriment of ordinary Americans. And from the start,the whole project has relied on the overaggressive use ofsnippets and stray remarks from an opinion that carried

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (81)

34LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOGORSUCH, J., concurringmixed messages. Stare decisis's true lesson today is notthat we are bound to respect Chevron's "startling develop-ment," but bound to inter it.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (82)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)1KAGAN, J., dissentingSUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATESNos. 22-451 and 22-121922-451LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES, ET AL.,PETITIONERSV.GINA RAIMONDO, SECRETARY OFCOMMERCE, ET AL.ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OFAPPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUITRELENTLESS, INC., ET AL., PETITIONERS22-1219V.DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, ET AL.ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OFAPPEALS FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT[June 28, 2024]JUSTICE KAGAN, with whom JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR andJUSTICE JACKSON join,* dissenting.For 40 years, Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural ResourcesDefense Council, Inc., 467 U. S. 837 (1984), has served as acornerstone of administrative law, allocating responsibilityfor statutory construction between courts and agencies.Under Chevron, a court uses all its normal interpretivetools to determine whether Congress has spoken to an is-sue. If the court finds Congress has done so, that is the endof the matter; the agency's views make no difference. Butif the court finds, at the end of its interpretive work, that*JUSTICE JACKSON did not participate in the consideration or decisionof the case in No. 22-451 and joins this opinion only as it applies to thecase in No. 22-1219.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (83)

2LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOKAGAN, J., dissentingCongress has left an ambiguity or gap, then a choice mustbe made. Who should give content to a statute when Con-gress's instructions have run out? Should it be a court? Orshould it be the agency Congress has charged with admin-istering the statute? The answer Chevron gives is that itshould usually be the agency, within the bounds of reason-ableness. That rule has formed the backdrop against whichCongress, courts, and agencies—as well as regulated par-ties and the public-all have operated for decades. It hasbeen applied in thousands of judicial decisions. It has be-come part of the warp and woof of modern government, sup-porting regulatory efforts of all kinds—to name a few, keep-ing air and water clean, food and drugs safe, and financialmarkets honest.And the rule is right. This Court has long understoodChevron deference to reflect what Congress would want,and so to be rooted in a presumption of legislative intent.Congress knows that it does not—in fact cannot—write per-fectly complete regulatory statutes. It knows that thosestatutes will inevitably contain ambiguities that some otheractor will have to resolve, and gaps that some other actorwill have to fill. And it would usually prefer that actor tobe the responsible agency, not a court. Some interpretiveissues arising in the regulatory context involve scientific ortechnical subject matter. Agencies have expertise in thoseareas; courts do not. Some demand a detailed understand-ing of complex and interdependent regulatory programs.Agencies know those programs inside-out; again, courts donot. And some present policy choices, including trade-offsbetween competing goods. Agencies report to a President,who in turn answers to the public for his policy calls; courtshave no such accountability and no proper basis for makingpolicy. And of course Congress has conferred on that ex-pert, experienced, and politically accountable agency theauthority to administer to make rules about and other-wise implement—the statute giving rise to the ambiguity or

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (84)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)3KAGAN, J., dissentinggap. Put all that together and deference to the agency isthe almost obvious choice, based on an implicit congres-sional delegation of interpretive authority. We defer, theCourt has explained, “because of a presumption that Con-gress" would have “desired the agency (rather than thecourts)" to exercise "whatever degree of discretion” the stat-ute allows. Smiley v. Citibank (South Dakota), N. A., 517U. S. 735, 740-741 (1996).Today, the Court flips the script: It is now “the courts (ra-ther than the agency)" that will wield power when Congresshas left an area of interpretive discretion. A rule of judicialhumility gives way to a rule of judicial hubris. In recentyears, this Court has too often taken for itself decision-mak-ing authority Congress assigned to agencies. The Court hassubstituted its own judgment on workplace health for thatof the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; itsown judgment on climate change for that of the Environ-mental Protection Agency; and its own judgment on studentloans for that of the Department of Education. See, e.g.,National Federation of Independent Business v. OSHA, 595U. S. 109 (2022); West Virginia v. EPA, 597 U. S. 697 (2022);Biden v. Nebraska, 600 U. S. 477 (2023). But evidently thatwas, for this Court, all too piecemeal. In one fell swoop, themajority today gives itself exclusive power over every openissue no matter how expertise-driven or policy-laden―in-volving the meaning of regulatory law. As if it did not haveenough on its plate, the majority turns itself into the coun-try's administrative czar. It defends that move as one (sud-denly) required by the (nearly 80-year-old) AdministrativeProcedure Act. But the Act makes no such demand. To-day's decision is not one Congress directed. It is entirelythe majority's choice.And the majority cannot destroy one doctrine of judicialhumility without making a laughing-stock of a second. (Ifopinions had titles, a good candidate for today's would beHubris Squared.) Stare decisis is, among other things, a

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (85)

4LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOKAGAN, J., dissentingway to remind judges that wisdom often lies in what priorjudges have done. It is a brake on the urge to convert "everynew judge's opinion” into a new legal rule or regime. Dobbsv. Jackson Women's Health Organization, 597 U. S. 215,388 (2022) (joint opinion of Breyer, SOTOMAYOR, andKAGAN, JJ., dissenting) (quoting 1 W. Blackstone, Com-mentaries on the Laws of England 69 (7th ed. 1775)). Chev-ron is entrenched precedent, entitled to the protection ofstare decisis, as even the majority acknowledges. In fact,Chevron is entitled to the supercharged version of that doc-trine because Congress could always overrule the decision,and because so many governmental and private actors haverelied on it for so long. Because that is so, the majorityneeds a “particularly special justification” for its action. Ki-sor v. Wilkie, 588 U. S. 558, 588 (2019) (opinion of theCourt). But the majority has nothing that would qualify. Itbarely tries to advance the usual factors this Court invokesfor overruling precedent. Its justification comes down, inthe end, to this: Courts must have more say over regula-tion over the provision of health care, the protection of theenvironment, the safety of consumer products, the efficacyof transportation systems, and so on. A longstanding prec-edent at the crux of administrative governance thus fallsvictim to a bald assertion of judicial authority. The major-ity disdains restraint, and grasps for power.IBegin with the problem that gave rise to Chevron (andalso to its older precursors): The regulatory statutes Con-gress passes often contain ambiguities and gaps. Some-times they are intentional. Perhaps Congress "consciouslydesired” the administering agency to fill in aspects of thelegislative scheme, believing that regulatory experts wouldbe “in a better position" than legislators to do so. Chevron,467 U. S., at 865. Or “perhaps Congress was unable to forgea coalition on either side" of a question, and the contending

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (86)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)5KAGAN, J., dissentingparties "decided to take their chances with" the agency'sresolution. Ibid. Sometimes, though, the gaps or ambigui-ties are what might be thought of as predictable accidents.They may be the result of sloppy drafting, a not infrequentlegislative occurrence. Or they may arise from the well-known limits of language or foresight. Accord, ante, at 7,22. "The subject matter” of a statutory provision may be too"specialized and varying” to “capture in its every detail."Kisor, 588 U. S., at 566 (plurality opinion). Or the provisionmay give rise, years or decades down the road, to an issuethe enacting Congress could not have anticipated. Which-ever the case-whatever the reason—the result is to createuncertainty about some aspect of a provision's meaning.Consider a few examples from the caselaw. They willhelp show what a typical Chevron question looks like―orreally, what a typical Chevron question is. Because whenchoosing whether to send some class of questions mainly toa court, or mainly to an agency, abstract analysis can onlygo so far; indeed, it may obscure what matters most. So Ibegin with the concrete:••Under the Public Health Service Act, the Food andDrug Administration (FDA) regulates “biological prod-uct[s],” including “protein[s].” 42 U. S. C. §262(i)(1).When does an alpha amino acid polymer qualify assuch a "protein"? Must it have a specific, defined se-quence of amino acids? See Teva PharmaceuticalsUSA, Inc. v. FDA, 514 F. Supp. 3d 66, 79–80, 93–106(DC 2020).• Under the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wild-life Service must designate endangered “vertebrate fishor wildlife" species, including “distinct population seg-ment[s]" of those species. 16 U. S. C. §1532(16); see§1533. What makes one population segment "distinct"from another? Must the Service treat the WashingtonState population of western gray squirrels as "distinct”

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (87)

6LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOKAGAN, J., dissentingbecause it is geographically separated from other west-ern gray squirrels? Or can the Service take into ac-count that the genetic makeup of the Washington pop-ulation does not differ markedly from the rest? SeeNorthwest Ecosystem Alliance v. United States Fishand Wildlife Serv., 475 F. 3d 1136, 1140-1145, 1149(CA9 2007).• Under the Medicare program, reimbursem*nts to hos-pitals are adjusted to reflect “differences in hospitalwage levels" across "geographic area[s].” 42 U. S. C.§1395ww(d)(3)(E)(i). How should the Department ofHealth and Human Services measure a "geographicarea"? By city? By county? By metropolitan area? SeeBellevue Hospital Center v. Leavitt, 443 F.3d 163, 174–176 (CA2 2006).••Congress directed the Department of the Interior andthe Federal Aviation Administration to reduce noisefrom aircraft flying over Grand Canyon NationalPark—specifically, to “provide for substantial restora-tion of the natural quiet." §3(b)(1), 101 Stat. 676; see§3(b)(2). How much noise is consistent with "the natu-ral quiet"? And how much of the park, for how manyhours a day, must be that quiet for the “substantial res-toration" requirement to be met? See Grand CanyonAir Tour Coalition v. FAA, 154 F. 3d 455, 466-467,474-475 (CADC 1998).Or take Chevron itself. In amendments to the CleanAir Act, Congress told States to require permits formodifying or constructing “stationary sources" of airpollution. 42 U. S. C. §7502(c)(5). Does the term “sta-tionary source[]" refer to each pollution-emitting pieceof equipment within a plant? Or does it refer to theentire plant, and thus allow escape from the permittingrequirement when increased emissions from one pieceof equipment are offset by reductions from another?See 467 U. S., at 857, 859.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (88)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)7KAGAN, J., dissentingIn each case, a statutory phrase has more than one reason-able reading. And Congress has not chosen among them: Ithas not, in any real-world sense, "fixed" the “single, bestmeaning” at “the time of enactment” (to use the majority'sphrase). Ante, at 22. A question thus arises: Who decideswhich of the possible readings should govern?This Court has long thought that the choice should usu-ally fall to agencies, with courts broadly deferring to theirjudgments. For the last 40 years, that doctrine has gone bythe name of Chevron deference, after the 1984 decision thatformalized and canonized it. In Chevron, the Court set outa simple two-part framework for reviewing an agency's in-terpretation of a statute that it administers. First, the re-viewing court must determine whether Congress has “di-rectly spoken to the precise question at issue.” 467 U. S., at842. That inquiry is rigorous: A court must exhaust all the"traditional tools of statutory construction" to divine statu-tory meaning. Id., at 843, n. 9. And when it can find thatmeaning a "single right answer"-that is "the end of thematter": The court cannot defer because it “must give effectto the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress.” Kisor,588 U. S., at 575 (opinion of the Court); Chevron, 467 U. S.,at 842–843. But if the court, after using its whole legaltoolkit, concludes that “the statute is silent or ambiguouswith respect to the specific issue" in dispute for any of thenot-uncommon reasons discussed above-then the courtmust cede the primary interpretive role. Ibid.; see supra,at 4-5. At that second step, the court asks only whether theagency construction is within the sphere of "reasonable"readings. Chevron, 467 U. S., at 844. If it is, the agency'sinterpretation of the statute that it every day implementswill control.That rule, the Court has long explained, rests on a pre-sumption about legislative intent—about what Congresswants when a statute it has charged an agency with imple-menting contains an ambiguity or a gap. See id., at 843-

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (89)

8LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOKAGAN, J., dissenting845; Smiley, 517 U. S., at 740–741. An enacting Congress,as noted above, knows those uncertainties will arise, evenif it does not know what they will turn out to be. See supra,at 4-5. And every once in a while, Congress provides anexplicit instruction for dealing with that contingency—as-signing primary responsibility to the courts, or else to anagency. But much more often, Congress does not say. Thusarises the need for a presumption—really, a default rule-for what should happen in that event. Does a statutory si-lence or ambiguity then go to a court for resolution? Or toan agency? This Court has long thought Congress wouldchoose an agency, with courts serving only as a backstop tomake sure the agency makes a reasonable choice among thepossible readings. Or said otherwise, Congress would selectthe agency it has put in control of a regulatory scheme toexercise the "degree of discretion" that the statute's lack ofclarity or completeness allows. Smiley, 517 U. S., at 741.Of course, Congress can always refute that presumptivechoice can say that, really, it would prefer courts to wieldthat discretionary power. But until then, the presumptioncuts in the agency's favor.¹ The next question is why.1 Note that presumptions of this kind are common in the law. In othercontexts, too, the Court responds to a congressional lack of direction byadopting a presumption about what Congress wants, rather than tryingto figure that out in every case. And then Congress can legislate, with"predictable effects,” against that “stable background” rule. Morrison v.National Australia Bank Ltd., 561 U. S. 247, 261 (2010). Take the pre-sumption against extraterritoriality: The Court assumes Congressmeans for its statutes to apply only within the United States, absent a"clear indication" to the contrary. Id., at 255. Or the presumptionagainst retroactivity: The Court assumes Congress wants its laws to ap-ply only prospectively, unless it "unambiguously instruct[s]" somethingdifferent. Vartelas v. Holder, 566 U. S. 257, 266 (2012). Or the presump-tion against repeal of statutes by implication: The Court assumes Con-gress does not intend a later statute to displace an earlier one unless itmakes that intention "clear and manifest." Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis,584 U. S. 497, 510 (2018). Or the (so far unnamed) presumption againsttreating a procedural requirement as “jurisdictional” unless "Congress

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (90)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)9KAGAN, J., dissentingFor one, because agencies often know things about a stat-ute's subject matter that courts could not hope to. The pointis especially stark when the statute is of a “scientific ortechnical nature." Kisor, 588 U. S., at 571 (plurality opin-ion). Agencies are staffed with “experts in the field” whocan bring their training and knowledge to bear on open stat-utory questions. Chevron, 467 U. S., at 865. Consider, forexample, the first bulleted case above. When does an alphaamino acid polymer qualify as a “protein"? See supra, at 5.I don't know many judges who would feel confident resolv-ing that issue. (First question: What even is an alphaamino acid polymer?) But the FDA likely has scores of sci-entists on staff who can think intelligently about it, maybecollaborate with each other on its finer points, and arrive ata sensible answer. Or take the perhaps more accessible-sounding second case, involving the Endangered SpeciesAct. See supra, at 5–6. Deciding when one squirrel popu-lation is "distinct" from another (and thus warrants protec-tion) requires knowing about species more than it does con-sulting a dictionary. How much variation of what kind—geographic, genetic, morphological, or behavioral-shouldbe required? A court could, if forced to, muddle throughthat issue and announce a result. But wouldn't the Fishand Wildlife Service, with all its specialized expertise, do abetter job of the task of saying what, in the context of spe-cies protection, the open-ended term "distinct” means? Oneidea behind the Chevron presumption is that Congress-clearly states that it is." Boechler v. Commissioner, 596 U. S. 199, 203(2022). I could continue, except that this footnote is long enough. TheChevron deference rule is to the same effect: The Court generally as-sumes that Congress intends to confer discretion on agencies to handlestatutory ambiguities or gaps, absent a direction to the contrary. Themajority calls that presumption a “fiction,” ante, at 26, but it is no morethan any of the presumptions listed above. They all are best guesses-and usually quite good guesses-by courts about congressional intent.So

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (91)

10LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOKAGAN, J., dissentingthe same Congress that charged the Service with imple-menting the Act-would answer that question with a re-sounding "yes."A second idea is that Congress would value the agency'sexperience with how a complex regulatory regime func-tions, and with what is needed to make it effective. Let'sstick with squirrels for a moment, except broaden the lens.In construing a term like “distinct” in a case about squir-rels, the Service likely would benefit from its “historical fa-miliarity" with how the term has covered the populationsegments of other species. Martin v. Occupational Safetyand Health Review Comm'n, 499 U. S. 144, 153 (1991); see,e.g., Center for Biological Diversity v. Zinke, 900 F. 3d 1053,1060-1062 (CA9 2018) (arctic grayling); Center for Biologi-cal Diversity v. Zinke, 868 F. 3d 1054, 1056 (CA9 2017) (de-sert eagle). Just as a common-law court makes better deci-sions as it sees multiple variations on a theme, an agency'sconstruction of a statutory term benefits from its unique ex-posure to all the related ways the term comes into play. Orconsider, for another way regulatory familiarity matters,the example about adjusting Medicare reimbursem*nt forgeographic wage differences. See supra, at 6. According toa dictionary, the term “geographic area” could be as largeas a multi-state region or as small as a census tract. Howto choose? It would make sense to gather hard informationabout what reimbursem*nt levels each approach will pro-duce, to explore the ease of administering each on a nation-wide basis, to survey how regulators have dealt with simi-lar questions in the past, and to confer with the hospitalsthemselves about what makes sense. See Kisor, 588 U. S.,at 571 (plurality opinion) (noting that agencies are able to"conduct factual investigations" and "consult with affectedparties"). Congress knows the Department of Health andHuman Services can do all those things and that courtscannot.Still more, Chevron's presumption reflects that resolving

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (92)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)11KAGAN, J., dissentingstatutory ambiguities, as Congress well knows, is "oftenmore a question of policy than of law." Pauley v. Beth En-ergy Mines, Inc., 501 U. S. 680, 696 (1991). The task is lessone of construing a text than of balancing competing goalsand values. Consider the statutory directive to achieve"substantial restoration of the [Grand Canyon's] naturalquiet." See supra, at 6. Someone is going to have to decideexactly what that statute means for air traffic over the can-yon. How many flights, in what places and at what times,are consistent with restoring enough natural quiet on theground? That is a policy trade-off of a kind familiar to agen-cies—but peculiarly unsuited to judges. Or consider Chev-ron itself. As the Court there understood, the choice be-tween defining a “stationary source" as a whole plant or asa pollution-emitting device is a choice about how to "recon-cile" two "manifestly competing interests." 467 U. S., at865. The plantwide definition relaxes the permitting re-quirement in the interest of promoting economic growth;the device-specific definition strengthens that requirementto better reduce air pollution. See id., at 851, 863, 866.Again, that is a choice a judge should not be making, butone an agency properly can. Agencies are "subject to thesupervision of the President, who in turn answers to thepublic." Kisor, 588 U. S., at 571-572 (plurality opinion). Sowhen faced with a statutory ambiguity, “an agency to whichCongress has delegated policymaking responsibilities” mayrely on an accountable actor's “views of wise policy to informits judgments." Chevron, 467 U. S., at 865.None of this is to say that deference to agencies is alwaysappropriate. The Court over time has fine-tuned the Chev-ron regime to deny deference in classes of cases in whichCongress has no reason to prefer an agency to a court. Themajority treats those “refinements” as a flaw in the scheme,ante, at 27, but they are anything but. Consider the rulethat an agency gets no deference when construing a statuteit is not responsible for administering. See Epic Systems

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (93)

12LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOKAGAN, J., dissentingCorp. v. Lewis, 584 U. S. 497, 519–520 (2018). Well, ofcourse not if Congress has not put an agency in charge ofimplementing a statute, Congress would not have given theagency a special role in its construction. Or take the rulethat an agency will not receive deference if it has reachedits decision without using-or without using properly—itsrulemaking or adjudicatory authority. See United States v.Mead Corp., 533 U. S. 218, 226–227 (2001); Encino Motor-cars, LLC v. Navarro, 579 U. S. 211, 220 (2016). Again, thatshould not be surprising: Congress expects that authorita-tive pronouncements on a law's meaning will come from theprocedures it has enacted to foster “fairness and delibera-tion" in agency decision-making. Mead, 533 U. S., at 230.Or finally, think of the “extraordinary cases" involvingquestions of vast “economic and political significance" inwhich the Court has declined to defer. King v. Burwell, 576U. S. 473, 485–486 (2015). The theory is that Congresswould not have left matters of such import to an agency, butwould instead have insisted on maintaining control. So theChevron refinements proceed from the same place as theoriginal doctrine. Taken together, they give interpretiveprimacy to the agency when—but only when—it is acting,as Congress specified, in the heartland of its delegated au-thority.That carefully calibrated framework “reflects a sensitiv-ity to the proper roles of the political and judicial branches."Pauley, 501 U. S., at 696. Where Congress has spoken, Con-gress has spoken; only its judgments matter. And courtsalone determine when that has happened: Using all theirnormal interpretive tools, they decide whether Congresshas addressed a given issue. But when courts have decidedthat Congress has not done so, a choice arises. Absent alegislative directive, either the administering agency or acourt must take the lead. And the matter is more fit for theagency. The decision is likely to involve the agency's sub-ject-matter expertise; to fall within its sphere of regulatory

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (94)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)13KAGAN, J., dissentingexperience; and to involve policy choices, including cost-benefit assessments and trade-offs between conflicting val-ues. So a court without relevant expertise or experience,and without warrant to make policy calls, appropriatelysteps back. The court still has a role to play: It polices theagency to ensure that it acts within the zone of reasonableoptions. But the court does not insert itself into an agency'sexpertise-driven, policy-laden functions. That is the ar-rangement best suited to keep every actor in its proper lane.And it is the one best suited to ensure that Congress's stat-utes work in the way Congress intended.The majority makes two points in reply, neither convinc-ing. First, it insists that “agencies have no special compe-tence" in filling gaps or resolving ambiguities in regulatorystatutes; rather, "[c]ourts do." Ante, at 23. Score one forself-confidence; maybe not so high for self-reflection or-knowledge. Of course courts often construe legal texts,hopefully well. And Chevron's first step takes full ad-vantage of that talent: There, a court tries to divine whatCongress meant, even in the most complicated or abstrusestatutory schemes. The deference comes in only if the courtcannot do so if the court must admit that standard legaltools will not avail to fill a statutory silence or give contentto an ambiguous term. That is when the issues look likethe ones I started off with: When does an alpha amino acidpolymer qualify as a "protein"? How distinct is "distinct"for squirrel populations? What size “geographic area” willensure appropriate hospital reimbursem*nt? As betweentwo equally feasible understandings of “stationary source,”should one choose the one more protective of the environ-ment or the one more favorable to economic growth? Theidea that courts have “special competence” in deciding suchquestions whereas agencies have “no[ne]” is, if I may say,malarkey. Answering those questions right does notmainly demand the interpretive skills courts possess. In-stead, it demands one or more of: subject-matter expertise,

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (95)

14LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOKAGAN, J., dissentinglong engagement with a regulatory scheme, and policychoice. It is courts (not agencies) that “have no special com-petence" or even legitimacy-when those are the things adecision calls for.Second, the majority complains that an ambiguity or gapdoes not "necessarily reflect a congressional intent that anagency" should have primary interpretive authority. Ante,at 22. On that score, I'll agree with the premise: It doesn't"necessarily" do so. Chevron is built on a presumption. Thedecision does not maintain that Congress in every casewants the agency, rather than a court, to fill in gaps. Thedecision maintains that when Congress does not expresslypick one or the other, we need a default rule; and the bestdefault rule agency or court? —is the one we think Con-gress would generally want. As to why Congress would gen-erally want the agency: The answer lies in everything saidabove about Congress's delegation of regulatory power tothe agency and the agency's special competencies. See su-pra, at 9–11. The majority appears to think it is a show-stopping rejoinder to note that many statutory gaps andambiguities are “unintentional." Ante, at 22. But to begin,many are not; the ratio between the two is uncertain. Seesupra, at 4–5. And to end, why should that matter in anyevent? Congress may not have deliberately introduced agap or ambiguity into the statute; but it knows that prettymuch everything it drafts will someday be found to containsuch a "flaw." Given that knowledge, Chevron asks, whatwould Congress want? The presumed answer is again thesame (for the same reasons): The agency. And as with anydefault rule, if Congress decides otherwise, all it need do issay.In that respect, the proof really is in the pudding: Con-gress basically never says otherwise, suggesting that Chev-ron chose the presumption aligning with legislative intent(or, in the majority's words, “approximat[ing] reality," ante,at 22). Over the last four decades, Congress has authorized

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (96)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)15KAGAN, J., dissentingor reauthorized hundreds of statutes. The drafters of thosestatutes knew all about Chevron. See A. Gluck & L. Bress-man, Statutory Interpretation From the Inside-An Empir-ical Study of Congressional Drafting, Delegation, and theCanons: Part I, 65 Stan. L. Rev. 901, 928 (fig. 2), 994 (2013).So if they had wanted a different assignment of interpretiveresponsibility, they would have inserted a provision to thateffect. With just a pair of exceptions I know of, they did not.See 12 U. S. C. §25b(b)(5)(A) (exception #1); 15 U. S. C.§8302(c)(3)(A) (exception #2). Similarly, Congress has de-clined to enact proposed legislation that would abolishChevron across the board. See S. 909, 116th Cong., 1stSess., §2 (2019) (still a bill, not a law); H. R. 5, 115th Cong.,1st Sess., §202 (2017) (same). So to the extent the majorityis worried that the Chevron presumption is “fiction[al],”ante, at 26-as all legal presumptions in some sense are―it has gotten less and less so every day for 40 years. Thecongressional reaction shows as well as anything could thatthe Chevron Court read Congress right.IIThe majority's principal arguments are in a differentvein. Around 80 years after the APA was enacted and 40years after Chevron, the majority has decided that the for-mer precludes the latter. The APA's Section 706, the ma-jority says, “makes clear” that agency interpretations ofstatutes “are not entitled to deference." Ante, at 14-15 (em-phasis in original). And that provision, the majority contin-ues, codified the contemporaneous law, which likewise didnot allow for deference. See ante, at 9–13, 15–16. But nei-ther the APA nor the pre-APA state of the law does the workthat the majority claims. Both are perfectly compatiblewith Chevron deference.Section 706, enacted with the rest of the APA in 1946,provides for judicial review of agency action. It states: "Tothe extent necessary to decision and when presented, the

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (97)

16LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOKAGAN, J., dissentingreviewing court shall decide all relevant questions of law,interpret constitutional and statutory provisions, and de-termine the meaning or applicability of the terms of anagency action." 5 U. S. C. §706.erence.That text, contra the majority, “does not resolve the Chev-ron question." C. Sunstein, Chevron As Law, 107 Geo. L. J.1613, 1642 (2019) (Sunstein). Or said a bit differently, Sec-tion 706 is "generally indeterminate” on the matter of def-A. Vermeule, Judging Under Uncertainty 207(2006) (Vermeule). The majority highlights the phrase “de-cide all relevant questions of law” (italicizing the “all”), andnotes that the provision "prescribes no deferential stand-ard" for answering those questions. Ante, at 14. But justas the provision does not prescribe a deferential standardof review, so too it does not prescribe a de novo standard ofreview (in which the court starts from scratch, without giv-ing deference). In point of fact, Section 706 does not specifyany standard of review for construing statutes. See Kisor,588 U. S., at 581 (plurality opinion). And when a court usesa deferential standard—here, by deciding whether anagency reading is reasonable—it just as much “decide[s]” a"relevant question [] of law" as when it uses a de novo stand-ard. §706. The deferring court then conforms to Section706 "by determining whether the agency has stayed withinthe bounds of its assigned discretion—that is, whether theagency has construed [the statute it administers] reasona-bly." J. Manning, Chevron and the Reasonable Legislator,128 Harv. L. Rev. 457, 459 (2014); see Arlington v. FCC, 569U. S. 290, 317 (2013) (ROBERTS, C. J., dissenting) ("We donot ignore [Section 706's] command when we afford anagency's statutory interpretation Chevron deference; we re-spect it").22 The majority tries to buttress its argument with a stray sentence ortwo from the APA's legislative history, but the same response holds. Asthe majority notes, see ante, at 15, the House and Senate Reports eachstated that Section 706 "provid[ed] that questions of law are for courts

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (98)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)17KAGAN, J., dissentingSection 706's references to standards of review in othercontexts only further undercut the majority's argument.The majority notes that Section 706 requires deferential re-view for agency fact-finding and policy-making (under, re-spectively, a substantial-evidence standard and an arbi-trary-and-capricious standard). See ante, at 14. Congress,the majority claims, “surely would have articulated a simi-larly deferential standard applicable to questions of lawhad it intended to depart” from de novo review. Ibid.Surely? In another part of Section 706, Congress explicitlyreferred to de novo review. §706(2)(F). With all those ref-erences to standards of review-both deferential and not-running around Section 706, what is "telling” (ante, at 14)is the absence of any standard for reviewing an agency'sstatutory constructions. That silence left the matter, asnoted above, "generally indeterminate”: Section 706 neithermandates nor forbids Chevron-style deference. Vermeule207.3rather than agencies to decide in the last analysis." H. R. Rep. No. 1980,79th Cong., 2d Sess., 44 (1946); S. Rep. No. 752, 79th Cong., 1st Sess., 28(1945). But that statement also does not address the standard of reviewthat courts should then use. When a court defers under Chevron, it re-views the agency's construction for reasonableness "in the last analysis."The views of Representative Walter, which the majority also cites, fur-ther demonstrate my point. He stated that the APA would require courtsto "determine independently all relevant questions of law,” but he alsostated that courts would be required to “exercise... independent judg-ment" in applying the substantial-evidence standard (a deferentialstandard if ever there were one). 92 Cong. Rec. 5654 (1946). He thereforedid not equate "independent" review with de novo review; he thoughtthat a court could conduct independent review of agency action using adeferential standard.³ In a footnote responding to the last two paragraphs, the majorityraises the white flag on Section 706's text. See ante, at 15, n. 4. Yes, itfinally concedes, Section 706 does not say that de novo review is requiredfor an agency's statutory construction. Rather, the majority says, "somethings go without saying," and de novo review is such a thing. See ibid.But why? What extra-textual considerations force us to read Section 706the majority's way? In its footnote, the majority repairs only to history.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (99)

18LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOKAGAN, J., dissentingAnd contra the majority, most “respected commentators"understood Section 706 in that way-as allowing, even ifnot requiring, deference. Ante, at 16. The finest adminis-trative law scholars of the time (call them that generation'sManning, Sunstein, and Vermeule) certainly did. ProfessorLouis Jaffe described something very like the Chevron two-step as the preferred method of reviewing agency interpre-tations under the APA. A court, he said, first “must decideas a 'question of law' whether there is 'discretion' in thepremises.” Judicial Control of Administrative Action 570(1965). That is akin to step 1: Did Congress speak to theissue, or did it leave openness? And if the latter, Jaffe con-tinued, the agency's view "if ‘reasonable' is free of control."Ibid. That of course looks like step 2: defer if reasonable.And just in case that description was too complicated, Jaffeconveyed his main point this way: The argument thatcourts "must decide all questions of law”—as if there wereno agency in the picture—“is, in my opinion, unsound." Id.,at 569. Similarly, Professor Kenneth Culp Davis, author ofthe then-preeminent treatise on administrative law, notedwith approval that “reasonableness” review of agency inter-pretations—in which courts “refused to substitute judg-ment" had "survived the APA." Administrative Law 880,883, 885 (1951) (Davis). Other contemporaneous scholarsand experts agreed. See R. Levin, The APA and the Assaulton Deference, 106 Minn. L. Rev. 125, 181-183 (2021)(Levin) (listing many of them). They did not see in theirown time what the majority finds there today.4But as I will explain below, the majority also gets wrong the most rele-vant history, pertaining to how judicial review of agency interpretationsoperated in the years before the APA was enacted. See infra, at 19–23.4 I concede one exception (whose view was "almost completely isolated,"Levin 181), but his comments on Section 706 refute a different aspect ofthe majority's argument. Professor John Dickinson, as the majoritynotes, thought that Section 706 precluded courts from deferring toagency interpretations. See Administrative Procedure Act: Scope andGrounds of Broadened Judicial Review, 33 A. B. A. J. 434, 516 (1947)

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (100)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)1999KAGAN, J., dissentingNor, evidently, did the Supreme Court. In the years afterthe APA was enacted, the Court "never indicated that sec-tion 706 rejected the idea that courts might defer to agencyinterpretations of law." Sunstein 1654. Indeed, not a singleJustice so much as floated that view of the APA. To thecontrary, the Court issued a number of decisions in thoseyears deferring to an agency's statutory interpretation.See, e.g., Unemployment Compensation Comm'n of Alaskav. Aragon, 329 U. S. 143, 153–154 (1946); NLRB v. E. C.Atkins & Co., 331 U. S. 398, 403 (1947); Cardillo v. LibertyMut. Ins. Co., 330 U. S. 469, 478–479 (1947). And that con-tinued right up until Chevron. See, e.g., Mitchell v. Budd,350 U. S. 473, 480 (1956); Zenith Radio Corp. v. UnitedStates, 437 U. S. 443, 450 (1978). To be clear: Deference inthose years was not always given to interpretations thatwould receive it under Chevron. The practice then wasmore inconsistent and less fully elaborated than it later be-came. The point here is only that the Court came nowhereclose to accepting the majority's view of the APA. Take thelanguage from Section 706 that the majority most relies on:"decide all relevant questions of law." See ante, at 14. Inthe decade after the APA's enactment, those words wereused only four times in Supreme Court opinions (all in foot-notes) and never to suggest that courts could not defer toagency interpretations. See Sunstein 1656.The majority's view of Section 706 likewise gets no sup-port from how judicial review operated in the years leadingup to the APA. That prior history matters: As the majorityrecognizes, Section 706 was generally understood to “re-state[] the present law as to the scope of judicial review."(Dickinson); ante, at 16. But unlike the majority, he viewed that bar as"a change" to, not a restatement of, pre-APA law. Compare Dickinson516 with ante, at 15-16. So if the majority really wants to rely on Pro-fessor Dickinson, it will have to give up the claim, which I address below,that the law before the APA forbade deference. See infra, at 19–23.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (101)

20LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOKAGAN, J., dissentingDept. of Justice, Attorney General's Manual on the Admin-istrative Procedure Act 108 (1947); ante, at 15-16. Theproblem for the majority is that in the years preceding theAPA, courts became ever more deferential to agencies. NewDeal administrative programs had by that point come intotheir own. And this Court and others, in a fairly short time,had abandoned their initial resistance and gotten on board.Justice Breyer, wearing his administrative-law-scholar hat,characterized the pre-APA period this way: “[J]udicial re-view of administrative action was curtailed, and particularagency decisions were frequently sustained with judicialobeisance to the mysteries of administrative expertise." S.Breyer et al., Administrative Law and Regulatory Policy 21(7th ed. 2011). And that description extends to review of anagency's statutory constructions. An influential study ofadministrative practice, published five years before theAPA's enactment, described the state of play: Judicial “re-view may, in some instances at least, be limited to the in-quiry whether the administrative construction is a permis-sible one." Final Report of Attorney General's Committeeon Administrative Procedure (1941), reprinted in Adminis-trative Procedure in Government Agencies, S. Doc. No. 8,77th Cong., 1st Sess., 78 (1941). Or again: “[W]here thestatute is reasonably susceptible of more than one interpre-tation, the court may accept that of the administrativebody." Id., at 90–91.55 Because the APA was meant to “restate[] the present law,” the judi-cial review practices of the 1940s are more important to understandingthe statute than is any earlier tradition (such as the majority dwells on).But before I expand on those APA-contemporaneous practices, I pause tonote that they were "not built on sand." Kisor v. Wilkie, 588 U. S. 558,568-569 (2019) (plurality opinion). Since the early days of the Republic,this Court has given significant weight to official interpretations of "am-biguous law[s]." Edwards' Lessee v. Darby, 12 Wheat. 206, 210 (1827).With the passage of time—and the growth of the administrative sphere-those "judicial expressions of deference increased." H. Monaghan, Mar-bury and the Administrative State, 83 Colum. L. Rev. 1, 15 (1983). By

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (102)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)21KAGAN, J., dissentingTwo prominent Supreme Court decisions of the 1940s putthose principles into action. Gray v. Powell, 314 U. S. 402(1941), was then widely understood as "the leading case" onreview of agency interpretations. Davis 882; see ibid. (not-ing that it “establish[ed] what is known as 'the doctrine ofGray v. Powell""). There, the Court deferred to an agencyconstruction of the term “producer” as used in a statutoryexemption from price controls. Congress, the Court ex-plained, had committed the scope of the exemption to theagency because its “experience in [the] field gave promise ofa better informed, more equitable, adjustment of the con-flicting interests." Gray, 314 U. S., at 412. Accordingly, theCourt concluded that it was “not the province of a court" to"substitute its judgment" for the agency's. Ibid. Threeyears later, the Court decided NLRB v. Hearst Publications,Inc., 322 U. S. 111 (1944), another acknowledged "leadingcase." Davis 882; see id., at 884. The Court again deferred,this time to an agency's construction of the term "employee"in the National Labor Relations Act. The scope of thatterm, the Court explained, “belong[ed] to” the agency to an-swer based on its “[e]veryday experience in the administra-tion of the statute." Hearst, 322 U. S., at 130. The Courttherefore “limited" its review to whether the agency's read-ing had "warrant in the record and a reasonable basis inthe early 20th century, the Court stated that it would afford "greatweight" to an agency construction in the face of statutory “uncertainty orambiguity." National Lead Co. v. United States, 252 U. S. 140, 145(1920); see Schell's Executors v. Fauché, 138 U. S. 562, 572 (1891) (“con-trolling” weight in "all cases of ambiguity"); United States v. AlabamaGreat Southern R. Co., 142 U. S. 615, 621 (1892) (“decisive" weight "incase of ambiguity"); Jacobs v. Prichard, 223 U. S. 200, 214 (1912) (refer-ring to the "rule which gives strength" to official interpretations if "am-biguity exist[s]"). So even before the New Deal, a strand of this Court'scases exemplified deference to executive constructions of ambiguous stat-utes. And then, as I show in the text, the New Deal arrived and deferencesurged creating the "present law" that the APA "restated."

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (103)

2222LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOKAGAN, J., dissentinglaw." Id., at 131.6 Recall here that even the majority ac-cepts that Section 706 was meant to “restate[] the presentlaw" as to judicial review. See ante, at 15–16; supra, at 19–20. Well then? It sure would seem that the provision allowsa deference regime.The majority has no way around those two noteworthydecisions. It first appears to distinguish between “pure le-gal question[s]" and the so-called mixed questions in Grayand Hearst, involving the application of a legal standard toa set of facts. Ante, at 11. If in drawing that distinction,the majority intends to confine its holding to the pure typeof legal issue thus enabling courts to defer when law andfacts are entwined—I'd be glad. But I suspect the majorityhas no such intent, because that approach would preserveChevron in a substantial part of its current domain. Cf.Wilkinson v. Garland, 601 U. S. 209, 230 (2024) (ALITO, J.,dissenting) (noting, in the immigration context, that theuniverse of mixed questions swamps that of pure legalones). It is frequently in the consideration of mixed ques-tions that the scope of statutory terms is established andtheir meaning defined. See H. Monaghan, Marbury and the6 The majority says that I have “pluck[ed] out" Gray and Hearst, im-pliedly from a vast number of not-so-helpful cases. Ante, at 13, n. 3. Itwould make as much sense to say that a judge “plucked out” UniversalCamera Corp. v. NLRB, 340 U. S. 474 (1951), to discuss substantial-evi-dence review or “plucked out" Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Assn. of United States,Inc. v. State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co., 463 U. S. 29 (1983), to dis-cuss arbitrary-and-capricious review. Gray and Hearst, as noted above,were the leading cases about agency interpretations in the years beforethe APA's enactment. But just to gild the lily, here are a number of otherSupreme Court decisions from the five years prior to the APA's enact-ment that were of a piece: United States v. Pierce Auto Freight Lines,Inc., 327 U. S. 515, 536 (1946); ICC v. Parker, 326 U. S. 60, 65 (1945);Federal Security Administrator v. Quaker Oats Co., 318 U. S. 218, 227–228 (1943). The real “pluck[ing]” offense is the majority's—for taking astray sentence from Hearst (ante, at 13, n. 3) to suggest that both Hearstand Gray stand for the opposite of what they actually do.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (104)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)23KAGAN, J., dissentingAdministrative State, 83 Colum. L. Rev. 1, 29 (1983) (“Ad-ministrative application of law is administrative formula-tion of law whenever it involves elaboration of the statutorynorm"). How does a statutory interpreter decide, as inHearst, what an “employee” is? In large part through casesasking whether the term covers people performing specificjobs, like (in that case) "newsboys." 322 U. S., at 120. Orconsider one of the examples I offered above. How does aninterpreter decide when one population segment of a spe-cies is "distinct" from another? Often by considering thatrequirement with respect to particular species, like westerngray squirrels. So the distinction the majority offers makesno real-world (or even theoretical) sense. If the HearstCourt was deferring to an agency on whether the term “em-ployee" covered newsboys, it was deferring to the agency onthe scope and meaning of the term “employee."The majority's next rejoinder-that "the Court was farfrom consistent” in deferring—falls equally flat. Ante, at12. I am perfectly ready to acknowledge that in the pre-APA period, a deference regime had not yet taken completehold. I'll go even further: Let's assume that deference wasthen an on-again, off-again function (as the majority seemsto suggest, see ante, at 11–12, and 13, n. 3). Even on thatassumption, the majority's main argument—that Section706 prohibited deferential review-collapses. Once again,the majority agrees that Section 706 was not meant tochange the then-prevailing law. See ante, at 15-16. Andeven if inconsistent, that law cannot possibly be thought tohave prohibited deference. Or otherwise said: “If Section706 did not change the law of judicial review (as we havelong recognized), then it did not proscribe a deferentialstandard then known and in use." Kisor, 588 U. S., at 583(plurality opinion).The majority's whole argument for overturning Chevronrelies on Section 706. But the text of Section 706 does notsupport that result. And neither does the contemporaneous

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (105)

24LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOKAGAN, J., dissentingpractice, which that text was supposed to reflect. So today'sdecision has no basis in the only law the majority deemsrelevant. It is grounded on air.IIIAnd still there is worse, because abandoning Chevronsubverts every known principle of stare decisis. Of course,respecting precedent is not an "inexorable command.”Payne v. Tennessee, 501 U. S. 808, 828 (1991). But over-throwing it requires far more than the majority has offeredup here. Chevron is entitled to stare decisis's strongest formof protection. The majority thus needs an exceptionallystrong reason to overturn the decision, above and beyondthinking it wrong. And it has nothing approaching such ajustification, proposing only a bewildering theory aboutChevron's "unworkability." Ante, at 32. Just five years ago,this Court in Kisor rejected a plea to overrule Auer v. Rob-bins, 519 U. S. 452 (1997), which requires judicial deferenceto agencies' interpretations of their own regulations. See588 U. S., at 586-589 (opinion of the Court). The caseagainst overruling Chevron is at least as strong. In partic-ular, the majority's decision today will cause a massiveshock to the legal system, “cast[ing] doubt on many settledconstructions" of statutes and threatening the interests ofmany parties who have relied on them for years. 588 U. S.,at 587 (opinion of the Court).Adherence to precedent is “a foundation stone of the ruleof law." Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, 572U. S. 782, 798 (2014). Stare decisis "promotes the even-handed, predictable, and consistent development of legalprinciples.” Payne, 501 U. S., at 827. It enables people toorder their lives in reliance on judicial decisions. And it"contributes to the actual and perceived integrity of the ju-dicial process," by ensuring that those decisions are foundedin the law, and not in the “personal preferences” of judges.Id., at 828; Dobbs, 597 U. S., at 388 (dissenting opinion).

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (106)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)25KAGAN, J., dissentingPerhaps above all else, stare decisis is a “doctrine of judicialmodesty.” Id., at 363. In that, it shares something im-portant with Chevron. Both tell judges that they do notknow everything, and would do well to attend to the viewsof others. So today, the majority rejects what judicial hu-mility counsels not just once but twice over.And Chevron is entitled to a particularly strong form ofstare decisis, for two separate reasons. First, it mattersthat "Congress remains free to alter what we have done."Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U. S. 164, 173(1989); see Kisor, 588 U. S., at 587 (opinion of the Court)(making the same point for Auer deference). In a constitu-tional case, the Court alone can correct an error. But thatis not so here. “Our deference decisions are balls tossed intoCongress's court, for acceptance or not as that branchelects." 588 U. S., at 587–588 (opinion of the Court). Andfor generations now, Congress has chosen acceptance.Throughout those years, Congress could have abolishedChevron across the board, most easily by amending theAPA. Or it could have eliminated deferential review in dis-crete areas, by amending old laws or drafting new laws toinclude an anti-Chevron provision. Instead, Congress has"spurned multiple opportunities" to do a comprehensive re-jection of Chevron, and has hardly ever done a targeted one.Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, LLC, 576 U. S. 446, 456(2015); see supra, at 14-15. Or to put the point more af-firmatively, Congress has kept Chevron as is for 40 years.It maintained that position even as Members of this Courtbegan to call Chevron into question. See ante, at 30. Fromall it appears, Congress has not agreed with the view ofsome Justices that they and other judges should have morepower.Second, Chevron is by now much more than a single deci-sion. This Court alone, acting as Chevron allows, has up-held an agency's reasonable interpretation of a statute atleast 70 times. See Brief for United States in No. 22–1219,

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (107)

26LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOKAGAN, J., dissentingp. 27; App. to id., at 68a-72a (collecting cases). Lowercourts have applied the Chevron framework on thousandsupon thousands of occasions. See K. Barnett & C. Walker,Chevron and Stare Decisis, 31 Geo. Mason L. Rev. 475, 477,and n. 11 (2024) (noting that at last count, Chevron wascited in more than 18,000 federal-court decisions). The Ki-sor Court observed, when upholding Auer, that “[d]eferenceto reasonable agency interpretations of ambiguous rulespervades the whole corpus of administrative law." 588U. S., at 587 (opinion of the Court). So too does deferenceto reasonable agency interpretations of ambiguous stat-utes except more so. Chevron is as embedded as embed-ded gets in the law.The majority says differently, because this Court has ig-nored Chevron lately; all that is left of the decision is a “de-caying husk with bold pretensions." Ante, at 33. Tell thatto the D. C. Circuit, the court that reviews a large share ofa*gency interpretations, where Chevron remains alive andwell. See, e.g., Lissack v. Commissioner, 68 F. 4th 1312,1321-1322 (2023); Solar Energy Industries Assn. v. FERC,59 F. 4th 1287, 1291–1294 (2023). But more to the point:The majority's argument is a bootstrap. This Court has"avoided deferring under Chevron since 2016” (ante, at 32)because it has been preparing to overrule Chevron sincearound that time. That kind of self-help on the way to re-versing precedent has become almost routine at this Court.Stop applying a decision where one should; "throw somegratuitous criticisms into a couple of opinions"; issue a fewseparate writings “question[ing the decision's] premises”(ante, at 30); give the whole process a few years ... andvoila! you have a justification for overruling the decision.Janus v. State, County, and Municipal Employees, 585 U. S.878, 950 (2018) (KAGAN, J., dissenting) (discussing the over-ruling of Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Ed., 431 U. S. 209 (1977));see also, e.g., Kennedy v. Bremerton School Dist., 597 U. S.507, 571-572 (2022) (SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting) (similar

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (108)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)27KAGAN, J., dissentingfor Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U. S. 602 (1971)); ShelbyCounty v. Holder, 570 U. S. 529, 587–588 (2013) (Ginsburg,J., dissenting) (similar for South Carolina v. Katzenbach,383 U. S. 301 (1966)). I once remarked that this overruling-through-enfeeblement technique “mock[ed] stare decisis."Janus, 585 U. S., at 950 (dissenting opinion). I have seenno reason to change my mind.The majority does no better in its main justification foroverruling Chevron-that the decision is "unworkable."Ante, at 30. The majority's first theory on that score is thatthere is no single “answer” about what “ambiguity” means:Some judges turn out to see more of it than others do, lead-ing to “different results." Ante, at 30-31. But even if so,the legal system has for many years, in many contexts,dealt perfectly well with that variation. Take contract law.It is hornbook stuff that when (but only when) a contract isambiguous, a court interpreting it can consult extrinsic ev-idence. See CNH Industrial N.V. v. Reese, 583 U. S. 133,139 (2018) (per curiam). And when all interpretive toolsstill leave ambiguity, the contract is construed against thedrafter. See Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varela, 587 U. S. 176, 186–187 (2019). So I guess the contract rules of the 50 Statesare unworkable now. Or look closer to home, to doctrinesthis Court regularly applies. In deciding whether a govern-ment has waived sovereign immunity, we construe “[a]nyambiguities in the statutory language” in “favor of immun-ity." FAA v. Cooper, 566 U. S. 284, 290 (2012). Similarly,the rule of lenity tells us to construe ambiguous statutes infavor of criminal defendants. See United States v. Cas-tleman, 572 U. S. 157, 172–173 (2014). And the canon ofconstitutional avoidance instructs us to construe ambigu-ous laws to avoid difficult constitutional questions. SeeUnited States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative,532 U. S. 483, 494 (2001). I could go on, but the point ismade. There are ambiguity triggers all over the law. Some-how everyone seems to get by.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (109)

28LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOKAGAN, J., dissentingAnd Chevron is an especially puzzling decision to criticizeon the ground of generating too much judicial divergence.There's good empirical—meaning, non-impressionistic—ev-idence on exactly that subject. And it shows that, as com-pared with de novo review, use of the Chevron two-stepframework fosters agreement among judges. See K. Bar-nett, C. Boyd, & C. Walker, Administrative Law's PoliticalDynamics, 71 Vand. L. Rev. 1463, 1502 (2018) (Barnett).More particularly, Chevron has a “powerful constraining ef-fect on partisanship in judicial decisionmaking." Barnett1463 (italics deleted); see Sunstein 1672 (“[A] predictableeffect of overruling Chevron would be to ensure a far greaterrole for judicial policy preferences in statutory interpreta-tion and far more common splits along ideological lines”).So if consistency among judges is the majority's lodestar,then the Court should not overrule Chevron, but return tousing it.The majority's second theory on workability is likewise amakeweight. Chevron, the majority complains, has someexceptions, which (so the majority says) are “difficult" and"complicate[d]" to apply. Ante, at 32. Recall that courts arenot supposed to defer when the agency construing a statute(1) has not been charged with administering that law; (2)has not used deliberative procedures―i.e., notice-and-com-ment rulemaking or adjudication; or (3) is intervening in a"major question," of great economic and political signifi-cance. See supra, at 11-12; ante, at 27-28. As I've ex-plained, those exceptions-the majority also aptly callsthem “refinements”—fit with Chevron's rationale: They de-fine circ*mstances in which Congress is unlikely to havewanted agency views to govern. Ante, at 27; see supra, at11-12. And on the difficulty scale, they are nothing much.Has Congress put the agency in charge of administering thestatute? In 99 of 100 cases, everyone will agree on the an-swer with scarcely a moment's thought. Did the agency usenotice-and-comment or an adjudication before rendering an

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (110)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)2929KAGAN, J., dissentinginterpretation? Once again, I could stretch my mind andthink up a few edge cases, but for the most part, the answeris an easy yes or no. The major questions exception is, Iacknowledge, different: There, many judges have indeeddisputed its nature and scope. Compare, e.g., West Vir-ginia, 597 U. S., at 721–724, with id., at 764-770 (KAGAN,J., dissenting). But that disagreement concerns, on every-one's view, a tiny subset of all agency interpretations. Forthe most part, the exceptions that so upset the majority re-quire merely a rote, check-the-box inquiry. If that is themajority's idea of a “dizzying breakdance,” ante, at 32, themajority needs to get out more.And anyway, difficult as compared to what? The major-ity's prescribed way of proceeding is no walk in the park.First, the majority makes clear that what is usually calledSkidmore deference continues to apply. See ante, at 16–17.Under that decision, agency interpretations "constitute abody of experience and informed judgment” that may be"entitled to respect." Skidmore v. Swift & Co., 323 U. S.134, 140 (1944). If the majority thinks that the same judgeswho argue today about where “ambiguity” resides (see ante,at 30) are not going to argue tomorrow about what "respect"requires, I fear it will be gravely disappointed. Second, themajority directs courts to comply with the varied ways inwhich Congress in fact “delegates discretionary authority”to agencies. Ante, at 17-18. For example, Congress mayauthorize an agency to “define[]" or "delimit[]" statutoryterms or concepts, or to "fill up the details" of a statutoryscheme. Ante, at 17, and n. 5. Or Congress may use, indescribing an agency's regulatory authority, inherently"flexible]" language like “appropriate” or “reasonable."Ante, at 17, and n. 6. Attending to every such delegation,as the majority says, is necessary in a world without Chev-ron. But that task involves complexities of its own. Indeed,one reason Justice Scalia supported Chevron was that it re-

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (111)

30LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOKAGAN, J., dissentingplaced such a "statute-by-statute evaluation (which was as-suredly a font of uncertainty and litigation) with an across-the-board presumption.” A. Scalia, Judicial Deference toAdministrative Interpretations of Law, 1989 Duke L. J.511, 516. As a lover of the predictability that rules create,Justice Scalia thought the latter “unquestionably better."Id., at 517.On the other side of the balance, the most important staredecisis factor-call it the "jolt to the legal system" issue-weighs heavily against overruling Chevron. Dobbs, 597U. S., at 357 (ROBERTS, C. J., concurring in judgment).Congress and agencies alike have relied on Chevron-haveassumed its existence—in much of their work for the last40 years. Statutes passed during that time reflect the ex-pectation that Chevron would allocate interpretive author-ity between agencies and courts. Rules issued during theperiod likewise presuppose that statutory ambiguities werethe agencies' to (reasonably) resolve. Those agency inter-pretations may have benefited regulated entities; or theymay have protected members of the broader public. Eitherway, private parties have ordered their affairs-their busi-ness and financial decisions, their health-care decisions,their educational decisions-around agency actions thatare suddenly now subject to challenge. In Kisor, this Courtrefused to overrule Auer because doing so would "cast doubton" many longstanding constructions of rules, and therebyupset settled expectations. 588 U. S., at 587 (opinion of theCourt). Overruling Chevron, and thus raising new doubtsabout agency constructions of statutes, will be far more dis-ruptive.The majority tries to alleviate concerns about a piece ofthat problem: It states that judicial decisions that have up-held agency action as reasonable under Chevron should notbe overruled on that account alone. See ante, at 34-35.That is all to the good: There are thousands of such deci-sions, many settled for decades. See supra, at 26. But first,

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (112)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)31KAGAN, J., dissentingreasonable reliance need not be predicated on a prior judi-cial decision. Some agency interpretations never chal-lenged under Chevron now will be; expectations formedaround those constructions thus could be upset, in a waythe majority's assurance does not touch. And anyway, howgood is that assurance, really? The majority says that adecision's "[m]ere reliance on Chevron" is not enough tocounter the force of stare decisis; a challenger will need anadditional “special justification.” Ante, at 34. The majorityis sanguine; I am not so much. Courts motivated to over-rule an old Chevron-based decision can always come upwith something to label a “special justification.” Maybe acourt will say "the quality of [the precedent's] reasoning"was poor. Ante, at 29. Or maybe the court will discoversomething "unworkable” in the decision-like some excep-tion that has to be applied. Ante, at 30. All a court need dois look to today's opinion to see how it is done.IVJudges are not experts in the field, and are not partof either political branch of the Government.- Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural ResourcesDefense Council, Inc., 467 U. S. 837, 865 (1984)Those were the days, when we knew what we are not.When we knew that as between courts and agencies, Con-gress would usually think agencies the better choice to re-solve the ambiguities and fill the gaps in regulatory stat-utes. Because agencies are “experts in the field." Andbecause they are part of a political branch, with a claim tomaking interstitial policy. And because Congress hascharged them, not us, with administering the statutes con-taining the open questions. At its core, Chevron is aboutrespecting that allocation of responsibility—the conferral ofprimary authority over regulatory matters to agencies, notcourts.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (113)

32LOPER BRIGHT ENTERPRISES v. RAIMONDOKAGAN, J., dissentingToday, the majority does not respect that judgment. Itgives courts the power to make all manner of scientific andtechnical judgments. It gives courts the power to make allmanner of policy calls, including about how to weigh com-peting goods and values. (See Chevron itself.) It puts courtsat the apex of the administrative process as to every con-ceivable subject-because there are always gaps and ambi-guities in regulatory statutes, and often of great import.What actions can be taken to address climate change orother environmental challenges? What will the Nation'shealth-care system look like in the coming decades? Or thefinancial or transportation systems? What rules are goingto constrain the development of A.I.? In every sphere ofcurrent or future federal regulation, expect courts from nowon to play a commanding role. It is not a role Congress hasgiven to them, in the APA or any other statute. It is a rolethis Court has now claimed for itself, as well as for otherjudges.And that claim requires disrespecting, too, this Court'sprecedent. There are no special reasons, of the kind usuallyinvoked for overturning precedent, to eliminate Chevrondeference. And given Chevron's pervasiveness, the decisionto do so is likely to produce large-scale disruption. All thatbacks today's decision is the majority's belief that Chevronwas wrong that it gave agencies too much power andcourts not enough. But shifting views about the worth ofregulatory actors and their work do not justify overhaulinga cornerstone of administrative law. In that sense too, to-day's majority has lost sight of its proper role.And it is impossible to pretend that today's decision is aone-off, in either its treatment of agencies or its treatmentof precedent. As to the first, this very Term presents yetanother example of the Court's resolve to roll back agencyauthority, despite congressional direction to the contrary.See SEC v. Jarkesy, 603 U. S.3. As to the second, just my own(2024); see also supra, atdefenses of stare decisis—

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (114)

Cite as: 603 U. S.(2024)33KAGAN, J., dissentingmy own dissents to this Court's reversals of settled law-bynow fill a small volume. See Dobbs, 597 U. S., at 363-364(joint opinion of Breyer, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ.); Ed-wards v. Vannoy, 593 U. S. 255, 296–297 (2021); Knick v.Township of Scott, 588 U. S. 180, 207-208 (2019); Janus,585 U. S., at 931-932. Once again, with respect, I dissent.

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (115)

Close ×

Read the Court’s Decision to Overrule the Chevron Doctrine (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Stevie Stamm

Last Updated:

Views: 5625

Rating: 5 / 5 (60 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Stevie Stamm

Birthday: 1996-06-22

Address: Apt. 419 4200 Sipes Estate, East Delmerview, WY 05617

Phone: +342332224300

Job: Future Advertising Analyst

Hobby: Leather crafting, Puzzles, Leather crafting, scrapbook, Urban exploration, Cabaret, Skateboarding

Introduction: My name is Stevie Stamm, I am a colorful, sparkling, splendid, vast, open, hilarious, tender person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.