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Has the Chevron doctrine really affected the way that administrative lawyers think, how courts decide cases and how agencies behave? As recent as 1991, a co-author and I described Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. ("Chevron") as merely a "significant but subtle change in legal doctrine." In his oral presentation at this symposium, Professor Peter Shane was even more skeptical, speculating that Chevron merely changed the verbal formulas courts used, and implying that Chevron had little actual effect on judicial decisions. Both of these views are wrong. They may be plausible interpretations of Chevron based on the text in isolation, but they describe a road not taken by legal history as events actually developed. In retrospect, Chevron signified a fundamental paradigm-shift that redefined the roles of courts and agencies when construing statutes over which agencies have been given interpretive rights.
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