A Couple of Supreme Court Rulings

The Supreme Court announced its ruling in a case centered on Chevron Defense, and rescinded that precedent [citations omitted].

The only way to “ensure that the law will not merely change erratically, but will develop in a principled and intelligible fashion,” is for the Court to leave Chevron behind.


Chevron is overruled. Courts must exercise their independent judgment in deciding whether an agency has acted within its statutory authority, as the APA requires. Careful attention to the judgment of the Executive Branch may help inform that inquiry. And when a particular statute delegates authority to an agency consistent with constitutional limits, courts must respect the delegation, while ensuring that the agency acts within it. But courts need not and under the APA may not defer to an agency interpretation of the law simply because a statute is ambiguous.

The Court also announced its ruling, a couple of days prior, in SEC v Jarkesy that the SEC—government regulatory agencies in general—seeking monetary punishments must do so through an Article III court and a jury trial. As summarized in The Wall Street Journal,

The Court’s decision means most complaints by agencies seeking penalties will have to be charged in federal courts, where defendants enjoy more procedural rights including to legal discovery. Agencies also won’t benefit from a home-court advantage. They win nearly every case in their own tribunals, as you might expect.

And, especially decisively, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the Court wrote

A defendant facing a fraud suit has the right to be tried by a jury of his peers before a neutral adjudicator. Rather than recognize that right, the dissent would permit Congress to concentrate the roles of prosecutor, judge, and jury in the hands of the Executive Branch. That is the very opposite of the separation of powers that the Constitution demands. Jarkesy and Patriot28 are entitled to a jury trial in an Article III court.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a concurring opinion that expanded on the CJ’s ruling and strengthened it IMNSHO [citation omitted].

The Seventh Amendments jury-trial right does not work alone. It operates together with Article III and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to limit how the government may go about depriving an individual of life, liberty, or property. The Seventh Amendment guarantees the right to trial by jury. Article III entitles individuals to an independent judge who will preside over that trial. And due process promises any trial will be held in accord with time-honored principles. Taken together, all three provisions vindicate the Constitution’s promise of a “fair trial in a fair tribunal.”

I put these two rulings together in this article because I see considerable synergy between them. No longer are our courts expected to defer to the judgment of Executive Branch regulators.

That means that even—especially—in both criminal and civil trial courts, after Jarkesy now the courts of first recourse for regulators seeking punishments, the judgment of regulators can be only that—judgment/opinion—and regulators’ judgments can carry no more weight than those of any other expert witness either party to the case might call to the stand—and they are just as vulnerable to showings that the expert isn’t all that.

Especially important, regulators must make their case in front of a jury of their accused’s peers.

That’s good for American liberty.

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