Virtually no federal regulation is immune to the Supreme Court’s new “big legal questions” doctrine
The Supreme Court came as no surprise when it ruled on June 30 that the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the legal authority to try to control climate change by reducing coal mining. Earlier this year, the court rejected the Biden administration’s attempt to require vaccines or COVID-19 tests and masks for tens of millions of employees. Last summer, the court struck down a nationwide COVID-related moratorium on tenant evictions. In each case, a 6-3 majority said the government’s actions were not authorized by federal law.
What was new in the latest decision was that it was the first to expressly rely on a rationale the court has defined as the “substantial legal issues” doctrine. In short, he says that when a regulator acts on a matter of “great economic and political importance,” it must show that Congress has clearly authorized its actions.