Supreme Court steals power for themselves – We can organize for working class power

On June 28, the justices of the Supreme Court provided yet another colossal victory to the far right. In Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, the six conservatives on the court ruled that judges no longer have any limits on their power to overrule decisions made by federal agencies on how to apply and enforce laws.

For the last 50 years, the federal judiciary has operated under the “Chevron deference” principle, meaning that courts should defer to agencies’ reasonable interpretation of laws. For example, the Clean Air Act says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can regulate “sources” of pollution—but who gets to decide what counts as a source: a single smokestack or an entire factory? In 1983, the Supreme Court said that federal courts must respect the interpretations made by agencies like the EPA, as long as the interpretation is considered reasonable. Ever since then, that’s how much of the government’s day-to-day work has functioned, if you can say it functioned at all.

Overturning Chevron deference has been at the top of the conservative legal movement’s list of urgent priorities for years now. Through this decision, the Supreme Court has claimed a huge amount of newfound power for themselves and other federal judges. Even more importantly, the extremely wealthy, corporate and financial interests that have already built up immense control over the federal judiciary now have essentially been handed final say over the entire administrative state as well. Chevron deference had left detailed technical questions over drug safety to the medical experts at the Food and Drug Administration, or questions over water pollution to the hydrologic scientists at the EPA. Now, these decisions will be made by judges with no technical expertise and their wealthy benefactors.

Now that Chevron deference has been overturned, federal courts are preparing for an onslaught of lawsuits from corporations who would benefit from reduced regulations on workers’ rights, environmental standards, or consumer protections. Businesses know that they are now protected from the possibility that a federal agency may regulate their unfettered pollution or dangerous working conditions. Even progressive appointees to the regulatory agencies pose no threat, since it is now the responsibility of judges “to handle technical statutory questions.” The Supreme Court and other federal judges have signaled that they are more than happy to deliver win after win to business interests at the expense of the safety and wellbeing of regular people. This invitation has never been clearer than it is today.

And yet of course, systemic corruption and loyalty to the rich and powerful also infects the agencies of the executive branch. The Treasury Department upholds capitalism at every turn, the National Security Administration spies on its own people, and even the EPA regularly commits horrific negligence. The recent Loper Bright decision is severely alarming, but this is primarily because the far right currently has a stronger grip on the judicial branch than on the executive branch. We should see this court case for what it is: a power dispute between two branches of a government that never has and never will prioritize working people and struggling families.

The power to make important decisions has just been placed in the hands of an even smaller minority of the ruling elite, and it’ll take all of us fighting back and organizing to create a truly democratic society where we have real control over our lives and our world.