New RULE Could Limit Government’s Power – But There’s An Issue!

( – On May 1, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that could result in limiting the power of federal agencies.

The case involves an appeal from Atlantic herring fishermen against the Biden administration. The fishermen argue that the National Marine Fisheries Service does not have the authority to require the herring fishermen to pay salaries of government monitors that ride on the fishing vessels.

The case involves the 1976 Magnuson-Stevens Act, a law governing the management of marine fisheries in federal waters. The law says fishery management plans could require each fishing vessel to have at least one federal observer when they are at sea. The New England Fishery Management Council proposal from 2017 created a plan that required fishing vessel owners to fund the monitoring program for some fishing trips.

In 2020, the Atlantic herring fishermen first sued the federal government regarding the requirement, alleging the 1976 Magnuson-Stevens Act does not authorize the National Marine Fisheries Service to mandate monitoring that is industry funded. 

In Washington, a federal district court sided with the National Marine Fisheries Service with a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreeing with the ruling. The fishing companies appealed to the Supreme Court.

The appeal means the justices will be reconsidering the Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council case from 1984 case. The 1984 case sets the factors which determine when an interpretation of the law should be deferred to government agencies by courts.

Conservative justices, including Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, have sometimes argued against the 1984 ruling.

In 2022, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was on the panel in the lower court that heard the arguments. She has recused herself from the case.

The case is set to be heard next term, which begins in October. A ruling would be issued in 2024.

In a separate but related case, there is a chance to rein in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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