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Vanderbilt University Law School

2017

Statutory interpretation

Supreme Court of the United States

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Minor Courts, Major Questions, Michael Coenen, Seth Davis Apr 2017

Minor Courts, Major Questions, Michael Coenen, Seth Davis

Vanderbilt Law Review

In Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., the Supreme Court deferred to an agency's controversial interpretation of a key provision of a regulatory statute. Lower courts now apply "Chevron deference" as a matter of course, upholding agencies' reasonable interpretations of ambiguous provisions within the statutes they administer. Recently, however, the Court refused in King v. Burwell to defer to an agency's answer to a statutory question, citing the "deep economic and political significance" of the question itself. The Court in King offered barebones guidance regarding the scope of and rationales for embracing this so-called "major questions exception" …