Over twenty years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States adopted the so-called Chevron Deference Doctrine in Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 843 (1984).
The Chevron Doctrine established that administrative agency construction of statutes is entitled to judicial deference. In the years that followed, a large number of states adopted the doctrine as applied to their state’s law.
As summarized eight years ago by the Mississippi Supreme Court in Rayner v. Barbour, 47 So. 3d 128, 131 (Miss. 2010):
[W]hen a statute is not ambiguous, this Court applies the statute according to its plain meaning and need not apply principles of statutory construction.” Barbour v. State ex rel. Hood, 974 So.2d 232, 240 (Miss.2008). But if there is ambiguity, the interpretation afforded by the [state agency] must be upheld if it is “based on a permissible construction of the statute.” Id. at 241 (citing Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc.,> 467 U.S. 837, 842–43 (1984)). This Court affords considerable weight to the construction given to a statutory scheme by the agency entrusted to administer it. Id. (some citations omitted) (emphasis added).
Famously, in 2016, then-Judge Neil Gorsuch authored a separate opinion concurring in his own majority opinion in Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, 834 F.3d 1142 (10th Cir. 2016), that affording no deference to administrative agencies’ interpretation of statutes, would enable “[C]ourts [to] fulfill their duty to exercise their independent judgment about what the law is.” (Gorsuch, J., concurring). On June 6, 2018, Mississippi adopted now-Justice Gorsuch’s view and abrogated a long line of cases applying Mississippi’s version of the Chevron Doctrine.
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