‘The Chevron Doctrine’ by Thomas Merrill

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‘The Chevron Doctrine’ by Thomas Merrill

Thomas W. Merrill of Columbia Law School is the author The Chevron Doctrine: its rise and fall, and the future of the administrative statediscussing the implications of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Chevron c. Natural Resources Defense Council.

A leading expert on the administrative state describes the past, present, and future of the hugely consequential — and equally controversial — legal doctrine that has come to define how laws of Congress are enforced by power executive.

The Constitution makes Congress the primary federal legislator. But for a variety of reasons, including partisan gridlock, Congress is increasingly failing to keep up with the challenges facing our society. Power has inevitably shifted to executive branch agencies that already interpret laws on the books and the courts reviewing the agencies’ interpretations.

Since the Supreme Court decision in 1984 inChevron c. Natural Resources Defense Council, this judicial review has been highly deferential: courts must uphold agency interpretations of unclear laws as long as those interpretations are “reasonable”. But theChevronThe doctrine faces backlash from constitutional scholars and now Supreme Court justices who insist that courts, not administrative agencies, have the power to say what is the law. Critics of the administrative state also accuseChevron deference permits irresponsible bureaucratic power.

Merrill is an associate rapporteur for the reformulation of the fourth law, property. He is a professor of law at Columbia University, specializing in real estate and administrative law.

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