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Supreme Court just defeated Big Government. It’s up to Congress to make it stick

OpinionSupreme Court just defeated Big Government. It’s up to Congress to make it stick

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The greatest fear of America’s Founders was government power left unchecked and unaccountable to the American people. In the last 40 years, however, the burgeoning of the administrative state has turned this founding nightmare into a reality. Federal bureaucrats under the guise of purported expertise have been able to wield immense control over the lives of American citizens.  These bureaucrats have destroyed small businesses and steamrolled private industries, all while accumulating more power for themselves.  

These unelected officials have been able to bypass Congress and avoid accountability because of an outdated and unconstitutional Supreme Court doctrine known as Chevron deference.  

Fortunately, the Supreme Court corrected this decades-long federal overreach in the landmark case Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, overturning the Chevron doctrine and delivering a huge victory to all Americans being suffocated by crushing government regulation. Now that power has returned to the American people, it is up to members of Congress to take responsibility for legislating as their elected representatives. 

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Loper Bright was brought to the Court by fishermen challenging the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) at-sea monitor program. This program required fishermen to host a government employee on their vessel to monitor compliance with federal regulations, all at the fishermen’s expense, which amounted to a whopping $700 per day.  

The Supreme Court building

The Supreme Court did what ordinary business people couldn’t do, stopped the massive power grab by government agencies. FILE: The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

These charges, not even authorized by federal law, could add up to thousands of dollars over a multi-day voyage. Failure to comply meant that the fishermen, who have risked their lives every day to deliver food to the tables of American families across our country, would be unable to fish and provide for their own families. 

In short, the government told small business owners — without any basis in law — that they had to accommodate a so-called expert or lose their livelihoods. 

The Chevron doctrine gave NOAA this power by requiring judges to be deferential to federal agencies’ interpretation of statutes when the law is “ambiguous.” It granted federal bureaucrats, who are not elected nor accountable to the public, the power to make up and interpret their own policies. Unchecked for decades, Chevron deference allowed the administrative state to morph into a quasi-fourth branch of government.

Given the relative power of parties involved, Loper Bright was a true David versus Goliath case. The fishermen were facing off against a massive and nearly all-powerful bureaucracy. In doing so, they represented the plight of scores of Americans struggling under the crushing weight of government regulation.  

We have long known that working families, including small businesses, are disproportionately impacted by overregulation because they lack resources to address compliance with these laws. For this reason, unreasonable government regulations consistently rank as a top concern for small business owners, and many small businesses have urged the Supreme Court to end Chevron deference in hopes of relieving regulatory burdens.  

As Justice Neil Gorsuch fittingly highlighted during the Loper Bright oral arguments in January, the Chevron doctrine undeniably “has this disparate impact on different classes of persons,” specifically those “who have no power to influence agencies.” 

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I have seen these consequences firsthand with Missouri’s farmers and ranchers, which includes almost 90,000 farms across my state. Defending these families from federal overreach has been a top priority for me. I’ve fought hard against Biden administration regulation, voting to block the Waters of the United States rule, which was EPA’s power grab over Missouri’s family farms and ranches. 

During my tenure as attorney general, I also pursued legal action against the Biden administration multiple times to protect Missourians, including challenging a climate change executive order that posed risks to agriculture and energy production essential to Missouri’s economy. 

In short, the government told small business owners — without any basis in law — that they had to accommodate a so-called expert or lose their livelihoods. 

In ruling in favor of the fishermen, the Supreme Court has delivered a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help these Missourians and all Americans by restoring the separation of powers and curbing an out-of-control regulatory state disproportionately harming working families.  

However, the battle is not yet won. With the Supreme Court rightfully returning authority back to the legislative branch, Congress must not punt this back to the regulatory agencies. It’s the duty of our elected leaders in the House and Senate to take on the burden of legislating, just as it was before. 

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Under the Constitution, lawmaking authority rests with Congress, not the administrative state. If those laws inflict harm, the Constitution affords Americans the means to voice their grievances. Forty years ago, the Supreme Court’s Chevron decision upset that balance. 

Today, the balance has been restored, and more importantly, the government’s accountability to the people has been restored. It is now up to Congress to see this judicial victory through. 

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