Chevron as Construction

24 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2018 Last revised: 18 Sep 2020

See all articles by Lawrence B. Solum

Lawrence B. Solum

University of Virginia School of Law

Cass R. Sunstein

Harvard Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: September 18, 2020

Abstract

In 1984, the Supreme Court declared that courts should uphold agency interpretations of ambiguous statutory provisions, so long as those interpretations are reasonable. The Chevron framework, as it is called, is now under serious pressure. Current debates can be both illuminated and softened with reference to an old distinction between interpretation on the one hand and construction on the other. In cases of interpretation, judges (or agencies) must ascertain the meaning of a statutory term. In cases of construction, judges (or agencies) must develop implementing principles or specify a statutory term. In cases that involve statutory construction, the argument on behalf of Chevron is very powerful; agencies have relevant comparative advantages in developing implementing principles. With respect to statutory interpretation, the argument on behalf of Chevron is more controversial. Those who reject Chevron in the context of interpretation should nonetheless accept it in the context of construction. The distinction between interpretation and construction explains some important cases in the 1940s and also in the post-Chevron era.

Keywords: Chevron, Chevron deference, administrative law, statutory interpretation, interpretation, construction, interpretation-construction distinction

Suggested Citation

Solum, Lawrence B. and Sunstein, Cass R., Chevron as Construction (September 18, 2020). Cornell Law Review, Vol. 105, No. 1465, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3300626 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3300626

Lawrence B. Solum (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

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Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
(434) 924-7932 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.law.virginia.edu/faculty/profile/lbs5w/2846137

Cass R. Sunstein

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts Ave
Areeda Hall 225
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2291 (Phone)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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