Utah leaders appear to encourage lawsuits following U.S. Supreme Court ruling

Posted at 11:50 AM, Jun 28, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's political leaders appear to be encouraging a series of lawsuits against the federal government following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision Friday striking down the Chevron doctrine.

Anticipating the conservative majority court's decision, the Utah State Legislature previously passed a bill directing state agencies to identify federal regulations it believed exceeded congressional intent and empowering the Utah Attorney General to file lawsuits over them. Now that the nation's top court has ruled, political leaders hinted that lawsuits are coming.

"No other legislative branch in the nation has fought federal overreach as relentlessly as Utah. This decision marks the beginning of even greater victories in our battle for state sovereignty," House Speaker Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter) celebrating the decision.

The Supreme Court's decision could impact a number of issues in Utah from air quality to public lands. On Utah's Capitol Hill, Republican lawmakers have often complained loudly about "federal overreach" on a number of fronts.

"This information will be vital as we rectify unconstitutional federal regulations that have significantly harmed our state and citizens," Senate President J. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said in a statement to FOX 13 News on the decision.

Governor Spencer Cox's office directed FOX 13 News to a video he produced for a meeting last month of business leaders and members of Utah's congressional delegation, where he encouraged the Chevron doctrine be overturned.

"The principle of deferring to federal agencies interpretation of a federal statute, as long as that interpretation is reasonable, has for the past 40 years, empowered federal agencies to grow their missions and expand their power in ways that are consistently bad for state authority, bad for economic growth and bad for individual liberty and human flourishing," he said in the video.

For his part, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes (who is leaving office at the end of this year after not seeking re-election) did not say if litigation was imminent. But he praised the ruling. Utah was among a number of states who filed "friend of the court" briefs asking for the Chevron doctrine to be struck down.

"My team and I in Utah laud SCOTUS for reversing a forty year error. As I have oft stated, the Chevron doctrine has been one of the most dangerous threats to the individual liberties of Americans because it allowed federal agencies to bypass Congressional prerogative and the will of the People," he said in a statement to FOX 13 News. "It gave vast, and at times, seemingly unending powers to unelected bureaucrats who had no direct accountability to the People or its representatives in Congress. Chevron was weaponized by activist courts and wielded by federal agencies to grow big government and promote partisan interests at the expense of personal freedoms and local control from states."