Health Law Highlights

Supreme Court Eyes World War II Era Doctrine for Agency Rules

From Bloomberg Law, by Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson:

  • The Supreme Court signaled its intention to replace the Chevron doctrine with the Skidmore doctrine during arguments in recent cases.
  • The Chevron doctrine, from a 1984 ruling, requires judges to defer to agency interpretations of a statute if reasonable, while the Skidmore doctrine, from a 1944 ruling, only requires deference if the interpretation is persuasive.
  • Skidmore is generally seen as less agency-friendly than Chevron. While Chevron requires courts to defer to a reasonable agency determination, Skidmore only requires that a court treat it as guidance, a much lower threshold.
  • If the Supreme Court replaces Chevron with Skidmore, it could change how courts consider challenges to agency regulations. Agencies are expected to win less under Skidmore, but the extent of this change remains uncertain, as the Supreme Court has already reduced Chevron’s influence in recent years.
  • The potential shift to Skidmore could increase pressure on agencies to provide more thorough reasoning to support their actions, possibly leading to fewer broad policy changes. However, some experts argue that agencies will still have various tools to achieve their desired results, such as enforcement actions, funding mechanisms, and exerting pressure on outside groups.