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Another Case of Government Overreach

In a case of government overreach into the small business community, years ago a National Marine Fisheries Service regulation requires that herring fishing boats allow an additional person on board to serve as a monitor, tracking compliance with federal regulations. The monitor’s salary must be paid by the fishing company being monitored, reducing fishing profits in a business where margins are tight.

Loper Bright Enterprises and other fishing companies sued to challenge the rule, saying the Magnuson-Stevens Act doesn’t mention payment of the monitor, but the district court ruled against the industry.

A divided panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the agency had appropriately interpreted the statute, deferring under the Chevron framework.

Judge Justin Walker dissented, arguing “Congress did not…authorize the National Marine Fisheries Service to make herring fishermen in the Atlantic pay the wages of federal monitors.”

The plaintiffs and their legal representatives celebrated the Supreme Court’s move.

“The Supreme Court has an opportunity to correct one of the most consequential judicial errors in a generation. Chevron deference has proven corrosive to the American system of checks and balances and directly contributed to an unaccountable executive branch, overbearing bureaucracy, and runaway regulation,” Cause of Action Institute counsel Ryan Mulvey said in a statement obtained by National Review. Counsel of record Paul Clement concurred and said: “We look forward to our day in court.”

Bill Bright, a New Jersey fisherman and plaintiff in this case, explained that the justices hold his way of life in their hands.

“We hope they will keep our families and our community in mind as they weigh their decision,” Bright said in a statement to National Review.

The Cato Institute, after examining over 140 recent appellate cases, filed an amicus brief in this case and concluded that “courts of appeals still defer under Chevron with regularity, despite the Supreme Court’s increasing reluctance to invoke the doctrine.”

Chevron will not fade away completely until the Supreme Court overrules it,” the group added.