In the Supreme Court of the United States
Michelle Valent, Petitioner,
Andrew M. Saul, Commissioner of Social Security, Respondent.
On Petition For Writ of Certiorari To the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Brief of Amici Curiae Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, Reason Foundation, and Committee for Justice In Support of Petitioner
Under the Chevron deference doctrine, courts must use the normal rules of statutory construction to determine the meaning of a congressional enactment. In the event that court finds the meaning of the statute ambiguous even after employing these tools of construction, the courts have indulged in a presumption that Congress intended the agency to fill in the details to resolve the ambiguity. In practice, however, courts seem to search for ambiguity rather than the meaning of the statute. Once any type of ambiguity is identified, many lower courts consider their role concluded and the entire matter is handed over to the executive agency to “fill in the gaps” or, in some cases, to create substantive meaning where none had previously existed.
Keeping in mind that Congress clearly indicated an intent for the courts to determine legal questions like the meaning of laws (U.S.C. § 706; Kisor v. Wilkie, 139 S.Ct. at 2432 (Gorsuch, concurring in the judgment), this Court should take this case to resolve the question of what tools the lower courts must employ in a search for the meaning of a statute. Further, the Court should resolve whether the lower courts are tasked with the job of finding ambiguity or finding meaning.
The Court should also grant review to revisit the concept of deference and the scope of deference granted to an executive agency. The power to determine the meaning of a law is vested in the judiciary. Judicial deference raises questions of separation of powers – especially where it results in authorizing an agency to formulate law, interpret law, and enforce that law.
Finally, the Court should grant the petition in this case to determine when the ambiguity is so profound that deference to agency interpretation results in the delegation of lawmaking power to the executive, or delegation of judicial power to interpret to that executive agency.