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Noah Feldman

A Power Grab of Sorts, Buried in a Supreme Court Decision

Kennedy calls for overturning a precedent that allows agencies to interpret laws, instead of judges.

Justice has its hands full.

Justice has its hands full.

Photographer: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

As the U.S. Supreme Court’s swing justice, Anthony Kennedy is used to making big headlines in June. On Thursday, he did something just as important as issuing a major decision — but considerably harder to capture in a few words.

In a brief, solo concurrence in Pereira v. Sessions, Kennedy called for reconsidering and maybe overruling one of the cornerstones of modern administrative law, known as “Chevron deference.” If the Chevron precedent is overturned, judges would have more direct power to overrule policy decisions made by agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Communications Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission.