Christian Groups Hope To Overturn Agency Power With SCOTUS Case

Several religious groups have submitted briefs in an upcoming Supreme Court case challenging what is known as “Chevron deference,” arguing that the nearly 40-year-old precedent is often cited in conflicts between religion and the government, The Daily Caller reported.

The Court will hear arguments next term in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo that challenges Chevron deference, a 1984 ruling that said the courts should defer to a federal agency’s interpretation of laws when the language is ambiguous. 

In Loper Bright, family-owned fishing companies are challenging the Commerce Department’s requirement for them to pay the salaries of state-mandated observers aboard their fishing vessels.

And while the case does not involve religious freedom, according to Julie Blake from Alliance Defending Freedom, there is much more at stake in the Supreme Court’s ruling in Loper. 

Blake told the Daily Caller that federal agencies threaten more than just “economic prosperity.” They are also a threat to freedom of religion, free speech, parental rights, and the right to life.

She said if the Supreme Court’s decision in Loper restrains the administrative state, it will also help protect all freedoms “by respecting the separation of powers.”

Critics of the Chevron deference argue that the precedent has empowered federal agencies to enforce ever-expanding interpretations of laws.

In an amicus brief submitted in the Loper case on behalf of the Christian Employers Alliance, the Pacific Legal Foundation argues that Chevron “puts a thumb on the scales of justice” when American citizens face federal agencies in court, allowing the executive branch bureaucracy to “evade checks and balances” from the judicial branch.

The Christian Employers Alliance cites examples of federal agencies citing Chevron to justify policies that run counter to religious liberty, including Health and Human Services’ interpretation of the word “sex” in the Affordable Care Act to require doctors to perform transgender surgeries and ban discrimination against gender identity.

But Julie Blake said the “most egregious” example is how the Biden administration is using Chevron to direct Title X family planning funding to abortion clinics.