The United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims: Has it Mastered Chevron’s Step Zero?
Veterans Law Review, Vol. 3, p. 67, 2011
68 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2011
Date Written: August 30, 2010
It has been twenty-five years since Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984), was decided. Chevron transformed deference analysis into a simple, two step test. First, a court should determine whether Congress had decided the issue, if not, the court was obligated to defer to any reasonable agency interpretation. Apparently, viewing its concession as too big, the Supreme Court retreated from Chevron’s broad grant of power to agencies, but not by explicitly recalling the beast. Rather the Court has added a series of steps to Chevron’s application with three later cases, turning Chevron from a simple two step into a multi-faceted flamenco. While many thought that Chevron would simplify and streamline an otherwise uncertain area - deference to agency interpretations - ultimately, the Court has introduced unwanted and unexpected complexity into the analysis.
Whether Chevron and its prodigy should have been decided as they were decided is irrelevant today. They are here for the long term. Hence, what is relevant is whether those individuals bound to follow the Supreme Court’s direction in this area can do so. This article examines one court’s application of this complicated doctrine: the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims (the Veterans Court) and concludes, not surprisingly, that the Veterans Court struggles with this area of jurisprudence.
Keywords: Chevron, Mead, step zero, Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, Veteran
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