First beneficiaries of Chevron ruling take cases back to lower courts

Washington, DC; July 2, 2024: Today, the Supreme Court ordered lower courts to reconsider two Pacific Legal Foundation cases without deference to the government: Foster v. U.S. Department of Agriculture and KC Transport v. Secretary of Labor.

“Our clients may now make their case in court without judges putting their thumb on the scale in favor of the government,” said Paige Gilliard, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “The Supreme Court’s decision to end Chevron deference is a move to restore fairness in federal courts. Our clients Arlen Foster and KC Transport are among the first beneficiaries.”

Foster v. U.S. Department of Agriculture

In 2011, the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) declared a puddle — the result of melting snow drifts — a wetland. As a result, Arlen Foster is not allowed to farm that portion of his property, even after the puddle has dried out.

Arlen asked NRCS, under the USDA, to reconsider the designation — which the statute requires them to do — in 2017 and again in 2020. The USDA refused and Arlen filed suit to compel them. Unfortunately, the lower courts reflexively deferred to NRCS under Chevron deference.

KC Transport v. Secretary of Labor

In 2019, a federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspector showed up at the company’s Emmett, West Virginia, facility and issued two citations. The facility parks, maintains, and repairs trucks that are occasionally hired to haul coal. The Emmett facility is neither on a mine nor attached to one; the closest mines are several miles away.

KC Transport contested the citation, arguing that its trucks and repair shop are not a “mine” under the Mine Act. Ultimately, an administrative law judge and the DC Circuit Court deferred to the Mine Safety Administration’s interpretation and found that the trucks just being parked at a repair shop makes both the trucks and the maintenance yard a “mine” subject to federal regulation.

Last Friday the Supreme Court struck down Chevron v. National Resources Defense Council, which required courts to rubber stamp regulators’ interpretation of ambiguous laws. Now the Supreme Court has ordered the lower courts to rehear each of these cases without unduly deferring to the government.

The cases are Foster v. USDA and KC Transport v. Secretary of Labor.

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