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State of Texas
AG Paxton Files Amicus Brief Calling on Supreme Court to Rein in the Administrative State and Uphold the Separation of Powers
Press Release
Monday, February 04, 2019

AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider Chevron deference, the doctrine that requires federal courts to defer to agency interpretations of statutes. Attorney General Paxton urged the high court to review the D.C. Circuit’s decision in United Parcel Service v. Postal Regulatory Commission, which deferred to an administrative agency’s view of the law without analyzing the underlying statute Congress passed. 

“The very concept of judicial deference – that federal courts should relinquish their constitutional authority to interpret the law to unelected federal bureaucrats – makes a mockery of the constitutional, representative government our Founders gave us,” Attorney General Paxton said. “They believed that the powers of government should be distributed between the three branches of government; Chevron gives us the opposite by concentrating power in the hands of faceless bureaucrats who cannot be held accountable by the nation’s voters. As our brief shows, a growing chorus of judges, justices, and top legal minds are recognizing the damage Chevron has done. The Supreme Court should put it out of its misery.” 

Chevron deference originated in the 1984 Supreme Court case, Chevron USA., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council. It required federal courts to uphold reasonable agency interpretations of congressional statutes considered ambiguous, even if the court’s own interpretation would be different. This practice is a significant departure from the judiciary’s traditional role of “saying what the law is.” There has also been little agreement among courts as to what should qualify as ambiguous. 

View a copy of the brief here.

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