Chevron Has Only One Step

14 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2008 Last revised: 16 Sep 2008

Date Written: August 27, 2008


Chevron, U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council lays out a two-step process that courts must follow when they review a federal agency's construction of a federal statute. We argue that Chevron, rightly understood, has only one step. The single question is whether the agency's construction is permissible as a matter of statutory interpretation. The two Chevron steps both ask this question, just in different ways, and are thus mutually convertible: any opinion written in terms of one step can be written, without loss of content, in terms of the other step. Chevron's artificial division of a unitary inquiry causes material confusion among commentators and courts, and has no benefits; administrative law should jettison the two-step framework.

Suggested Citation

Stephenson, Matthew Caleb and Vermeule, Adrian, Chevron Has Only One Step (August 27, 2008). Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 08-24, Available at SSRN: or

Matthew Caleb Stephenson

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-9863 (Phone)

Adrian Vermeule (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1525 Massachusetts
Griswold 500
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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