71 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2015 Last revised: 19 Apr 2016
Date Written: September 9, 2015
Over thirty years ago, in Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., the Supreme Court ordered judges to defer to administrative agencies' reasonable interpretations of ambiguous statutes. Chevron's deference doctrine has since proved to be a resounding failure. The Supreme Court has applied Chevron in a highly unpredictable manner, failing to offer agencies and lower courts adequate guidance.
In response, this Article compares interpretive problems arsing under Chevron to similar problems arising under contract law. Both areas have drawn competing interpretive methodologies and disagreement over how much weight courts should place on written terms. In contract law, however, interpretive methodology may be understood to vary according to parties' incentives to commit specific contractual terms to writing. This Article concludes that contract law's semi-tailored compromise approach has the potential to make Chevron more predictable.
Keywords: Chevron deference, King v. Burwell, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, statutory interpretation, textualism
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