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Supreme Court accepts case that has potential to erode power of federal regulators

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a dispute between a group of New Jersey fishermen and the federal government that could decide the much larger issue of whether costly federal regulation has overstretched its legal boundaries.

Last year, the fishermen petitioned the Supreme Court to take up a lawsuit challenging a regulation issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that requires fishermen to pay up to $700 per day to fund the salary of a contractor who monitors their boat to ensure compliance.

The fishermen say that the regulation is out-of-bounds for a federal agency, and such a burdensome requirement should be imposed by Congress only.

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Lower courts have rejected arguments that the rule goes too far by leaning on the Supreme Court precedent set in Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.

US Supreme Court building on a sunny day

The Supreme Court is seen Wednesday, June 29, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

But on Monday, the Supreme Court accepted the fishermen’s petition and said it will need to determine if Chevron should be overturned.

Paul Clement, who served as U.S. solicitor general from 2004 to 2008 and has argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court, is representing the fishermen.

Chevron legal doctrine has been opposed by conservatives who say the federal government has grown too big and too bloated with federal regulations made by agencies that bypass Congressional oversight.

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“Over the years, the Chevron doctrine has been used by lower courts as a tool to give bureaucratic and unaccountable administrative agencies excessive deference in interpreting statutes,” Carrie Severino, president of JCN told Fox News Digital.

Crew members aboard a boat sailing in coastal Maine waters bring in a buoy that marks the start of their gillnet fishing lines. (Mailee Osten-Tan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“The Court’s decision to grant this case is a promising sign that it intends to either overturn the precedent or give much needed clarity to lower courts applying it,” she added.

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“The Supreme Court has an opportunity to correct one of the most consequential judicial errors in a generation. Chevron deference has proven corrosive to the American system of checks and balances and directly contributed to an unaccountable executive branch, overbearing bureaucracy, and runaway regulation,” Cause of Action Institute counsel Ryan Mulvey echoed in a statement.

The fishermen are looking for the more narrow relief of eliminating a requirement to have monitors accompanying fishermen on trips, paid for by the fishermen themselves.

Ocean temperatures warming

Lobster fishermen work at sunrise, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, off Kennebunkport, Maine.  (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

Jerry Leeman, a commercial fishing captain form New Bedford, Massachusetts, said the observer program is “unhelpful at best and dangerous at worst.”

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“My experience has been that observers lack training to do their jobs well. And they are not prepared for the trying conditions we deal with at sea. I’ve seen observers have panic attacks and mental breakdowns during heavy swells. That’s a problem in the middle of the ocean,” he said in a statement to Fox News Digital.

The case, Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, will be heard next Supreme Court term that begins this fall.

Fox News Digital’s Patrick Hauf contributed to this report.

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