Last week, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case in which the plaintiff challenged the Chevrondoctrine—a 35-year old court precedent. The case also involves two of the largest corporations in the United States: Amazon and UPS.
The Chevron doctrine is an administrative law principle that compels federal courts to defer to a federal agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous or unclear statute that Congress delegated to the agency to administer. The principle derives its name from the 1984 U.S. Supreme Court case Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council. That decision guided courts to consider whether Congress’ intent in writing a statute was ambiguous and whether the agency’s interpretation of the statute is reasonable.
In the suit, the United Parcel Service (UPS) challenged how the D.C. Circuit applied Chevron deference in upholding the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) cost allocation and pricing formulas. USPS package delivery rates are set by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). UPS argued that the D.C. Circuit made a mistake in its May 2018 opinion which applied the Chevron doctrine to uphold the formula used by the PRC to set rates. Amazon was among several organizations which filed briefs supporting the PRC.