Ruling Strikes Down 40 Years of Regulatory Predictability Small Businesses Rely On

Media Release

According to the American Sustainable Business Network, the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Chevron doctrine has dealt a major blow to American small businesses, which make up 99.9% of the workforce.

Washington, DC – Friday’s Supreme Court ruling in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo strikes a major blow to local economies and businesses across America, which rely on federal regulatory agencies to bring predictability and stability to the business landscape. Federal regulations allow business leaders from Main Street to Wall Street to confidently plan and prepare for the future. With 99.9 percent of American businesses being small businesses that employ nearly half of America’s workforce, this ruling will create unnecessary confusion and burdensome untold compliance issues across the U.S. for years to come.

“Last Friday was a bad day for the U.S. judicial system and American businesses. The American Sustainable Business Network (ASBN) represents thousands of small and mid-sized businesses. These businesses are the fabric that weaves the U.S. economy together.” said David Levine, ASBN President and Co-Founder. “Small businesses often lack the in-house capability and money for external consultants to monitor regulatory changes like big corporations. Now, instead of looking to the agencies for long-term regulatory guidance, small businesses will have to attempt to navigate an unworkable and destabilizing regulatory environment.”

Since 1983, Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has been a foundational case in administrative law. In it, the Supreme Court held that when a federal statute is ambiguous or silent, courts should defer to an agency’s interpretation of that law so long as it is reasonable. On January 17, 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Relentless Inc. v. U.S. Department of Commerce and Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo. Petitioners in these cases challenged a fisheries management rule requiring commercial fishing vessels to pay for compliance monitors. In the challenge, they asked the court to substitute their own judgment in instances of statutory ambiguity, completely eliminating judicial deference to agency experts in implementing regulations. 

Chevron has played an important role in encouraging predictable regulations and in achieving a measure of regulatory certainty, and Chevron deference promoted that regulatory certainty,” said Mia Woodard, ASBN Vice President of Policy & Government Affairs. “Without this deference, small businesses are left to navigate a volatile regulatory landscape that places them at a disadvantage in competing against major corporations with sophisticated compliance operations. Striking down this foundational ruling that has existed since the ’80s will create a negative ripple across the regulatory and business landscape for years to come.” 

Friday’s Supreme Court ruling continues to shift power away from executive branch experts and U.S. elected representatives. This decision does not affect agencies’ legal authority to issue regulatory guidance or safeguards; however, it opens the door to more courts second-guessing agency decisions about critical regulatory safeguards, making it harder for federal agencies to guide businesses with long-term certainty and burden small businesses with more frequent changes. It also increases the likelihood of judges’ ideological preferences playing a far greater role in deciding regulatory cases than agencies’ subject matter experts.

While the ruling is a setback for small businesses (and a win for big corporations and monied special interests), it is not the end of the fight. ASBN will continue to advocate on behalf of its members through the notice and comment process and explore legislative action to restore Chevron deference.


American Sustainable Business Network (ASBN) is a movement builder in partnership with the business and investor community. ASBN develops and advocates solutions for policymakers, business leaders, and investors that support an equitable, regenerative, and just economy that benefits all — people and planet. As a multi-issue, membership organization advocating on behalf of every business sector, size, and geography, ASBN and its association members collectively represent thousands of businesses across our networks. ASBN partners with some of the most impactful brands to develop and advocate solutions for policymakers that support an equitable economy for all.

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Anayana White
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