Greenberg Traurig LLP

07/09/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/09/2024 18:27

U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Landmark Administrative Law Precedent: Implications for Immigration Law

On June 28, 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court issued their decision in Loper Bright Enterprises et al. v. Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce, et al. - with significant consequences for immigration law. LoperBright marks a fundamental shift in administrative legal practice, as it overrules Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. 467 U.S. 837 (1984). The Chevron decision required courts to defer to federal agencies when interpreting ambiguous statutory language within their respective domains, so long as said interpretation was reasonable. The majority in Loper Bright overturned this 40-year-old precedent, holding that courts need not defer to federal agencies in interpreting ambiguous statutory language. The Loper Bright majority has held that Chevron conflicts with the Administrative Procedure Act, which gives the federal judiciary, not the agencies, the power to decide relevant questions of law. The Loper Bright decision further holds that "courts must exercise their independent judgment in deciding whether an agency has acted within its statutory authority."

Importantly, the Loper Bright decision confirms that prior rulings relying on Chevron remain good law and can be cited as precedent. Further, Loper Bright holds that courts should rely upon the deference standard outlined in Skidmore v. Swift & Co., 323 U.S. 134 (1944), which allows reliance on the federal agency's interpretation only to the extent that it carries a "power to persuade," where courts can accord deference dependent upon the thoroughness of its consideration, the validity of its reasoning, and its consistency with earlier agency pronouncements.

Loper Bright will have a profound impact on all areas of U.S. administrative law, including immigration. This decision may lead courts to overturn decisions by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Labor, denying applications and requests for immigration benefits and relief. While this decision increases the likelihood of inconsistency in immigration-related court decisions across the country due to the likely varying interpretation of statutory language by various courts, administration changes will be less likely to cause drastic changes in the application of immigration law. Moving forward, both pro-immigration and anti-immigration plaintiffs will be able to challenge policies, and the courts will have an expanded role in setting U.S. immigration policy, allowing challenges to both restrictive and permissive immigration policies.

The full implications of this ruling will become more apparent as courts adjudicate and interpret immigration statutes and policies.