WASHINGTON– The Supreme Court must reinforce the balance of power that Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council (Chevron) provides to ensure that federal agencies uphold Congress’ vision for a robust federal civil rights framework developed to protect its people, particularly people of color, women, and people with disabilities, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law argued in a brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court today.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – in collaboration with Pro Bono counsel Moore & Van Allen, PLLC – led a group of civil rights organizations in filing an amicus brief in support of the Respondents in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo. The brief outlines potential threats to civil rights protections if Chevron, a longstanding legal principle in which administrative agencies are afforded reasonable discretion to interpret laws passed by Congress, is upended. The Lawyers’ Committee asserts in its brief that Chevron is vitally important for maintaining the separation of powers between branches of government. Chevron empowers agencies to create and enforce regulations that provide clarity and guidance for individuals, organizations, and courts in order to uphold civil rights laws passed by Congress. In recent years the doctrine has been an essential tool allowing agencies to broadly enforce civil rights laws to protect disadvantaged groups and ensure justice.
“Congress must recognize that agencies have expertise, informed by data and empirical analysis, that equip them to set forth examples of conduct that violates civil rights laws,” said Thomas Silverstein, Associate Director of the Fair Housing & Community Development Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Chevron is a critical background principle that Congress relies upon when it drafts civil rights laws.”
Without Chevron, the ability to interpret and enforce civil rights laws effectively would be hindered, potentially leading to uncertainty, inconsistency, and circumvention of these vital protections. Moreover, limiting the discretion afforded to agencies to reasonably interpret laws has the potential to effectively transfer that authority to judges, as cases that challenge agencies’ statutory authority increase in response to the landmark precedent being overturned. The Lawyers’ Committee calls on the Supreme Court to recognize the consequential significance of Chevron and uphold this foundational principle that has improved our society and protected civil rights for all.
Other organizations joining the amicus brief include the Center for Responsible Lending, Justice in Aging, Lambda Legal Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NAACP, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, National Employment Law Project and National Fair Housing Alliance.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.