This fall, the justices will consider whether to overturn an oft-cited legal doctrine that tells courts to defer to the opinion of federal agencies in defining their statutory authority. Established in 1984, the “Chevron Doctrine” has made it more difficult to legally challenge federal regulations related to climate change, public health, and consumer safety, and has long been a target of conservative campaigns to shrink the size of government. “Chevron has become the crucial bulwark to protect executive branch agencies from doing the job that Congress assigned them without improper interference from courts,” James Goodwin, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Progressive Reform told Bloomberg. “You’ve basically just pulled the rug out from under Congress for the last 40 years.”

The case heading to the high court was brought by a group of New Jersey fishermen, who argue that a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration regulation that requires them to pay up to $700 per day for a compliance contractor is beyond the authority Congress granted to the agency. The lower courts have rejected their arguments thus far, but at least four conservative members of the Supreme Court have previously questioned the validity of the Chevron Doctrine, and were willing to restrict the ability of EPA to regulate climate pollution in a ruling last June. (CNN, AP, NBC News, CBS News, CNBC, The Hill, Roll Call, Esquire, Fox News, Grist, USA Today, Washington Post $, New York Times $, Bloomberg $, Politico $, Wall Street Journal $)