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House Votes To Overturn Controversial Supreme Court Ruling

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The House of Representatives voted to overturn a 1984 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Thursday that Republicans argued gave the executive branch “too much power” to impose regulations that cost Americans trillions of dollars every single year.

“Lawmakers approved the Separation of Powers Restoration Act, or SOPRA, in a mostly party-line 220-211 vote. Republicans have argued for the last several years that the Supreme Court precedent set in the Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. case effectively told courts that they should defer to federal agencies when they interpret laws passed by Congress as they write regulations. Republicans say that since that ruling, courts have failed to do their due diligence in assessing whether those regulations can be fairly justified under the law,” Fox News reported.

“The lawmaker who sponsored SOPRA, Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Wis., argued on the House floor Thursday that the Supreme Court ruling has given the executive branch vast authority to regulate as it pleases, and often in ways that contradict the intent of Congress,” the outlet added.

“Since 1984, when the Supreme Court ruled that courts must defer to an agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous statute rather than what Congress intended, the executive branch has begun usurping the legislative branch to issue regulations with the force of law. It is certainly not what our founders intended,” Fitzgerald said.

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“The total annual cost of regulation is almost $2 trillion, or about 8% of the U.S. GDP,” he added. “If it were a country, for comparison, U.S. regulation would be the world’s eighth largest economy.”

Democrats were against overturning the Supreme Court decision, saying it would force the courts to take on considerable work as they try to interpret federal law.

New York Democrat Rep. Jerry Nadler said the bill would “completely upend the administrative process by eliminating judicial deference to agencies and require federal courts to review all agency rulemakings and interpretations of the statute on a de novo basis.”

“While Congress sets broad policies, we delegate authorities to executive agencies because we do not have the expertise to craft the technical regulations ourselves, and we rely on these agencies to carry out the policies we enact,” Nadler said.

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The Supreme Court made headlines in another case recently.

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered what some are calling a “landmark” decision on Thursday that left intact a decades-old law that prioritizes the placement of Native American children with Native families or tribes in child custody proceedings.

“The law was passed in 1978 to protect tribal sovereignty after Congress documented the alarmingly high number of children with Native American ancestry being placed with non-Native families or institutions in state child welfare and private adoption proceedings. The 7-2 decision backs the law passed in the wake of decades of hostility on the part of the federal government when it comes to child custody issues and the traditional values of Indian tribes,” CNN reported.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, writing for the majority, argued that Congress did not exceed its authority when it passed the law.

“In a long line of cases we have characterized Congress’ power to legislate with respect to the Indian tribes as plenary and exclusive. Congress’s power to legislate with respect to Indians is well-established and broad,” Barrett wrote.

“The case pitted the interest of Native American tribes, who said their existence as sovereign nations was on the line, against non-Native couples seeking to foster or adopt children with Native ancestry. The opinion, which is a defeat for the couples who challenged the law, upheld a lower court’s ruling that the law is consistent with Congress’ authority. The Indian Child Welfare Act was enacted as a response to serious harms caused by widespread child welfare practices that resulted in the separation of Indian families, and adoption or foster placement in non-Indian homes,” CNN reported.

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