The Supreme Court decided the much-anticipated Kisor v. Wilkie case on July 3. The Court had granted certiorari in Kisor to decide whether to overrule Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co., 325 U.S. 410 (1945), and Auer v. Robbins, 519 U.S. 452 (1997). Seminole Rock and Auer are often cited for the proposition that when an administrative agency promulgates a regulation and the regulation is ambiguous, a reviewing court must give “controlling weight” to the agency’s interpretation of the regulation unless the interpretation is plainly erroneous or is inconsistent with the regulation. A number of the Court’s members had cast doubt on the soundness of the Seminole Rock/Auer deference doctrine in recent years, and many observers have predicted that the doctrine’s days are numbered.
Karen Harned and Stephen Vaden discuss the highly-fractured decision in Kisor and its potential implications — including for the Chevron deference doctrine that applies to agency interpretations of statutory provisions (set forth in Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984)).More