Fishermen Turn to Supreme Court, Fearing Loss of Family Business

( – The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on January 17 for two combined cases in a challenge to a 1984 Supreme Court decision. The plaintiffs believe they should not have to pay federally required monitors to analyze their catches.

On days when the fishermen do not have much luck, basic operational costs sometimes result in a loss. The fishermen are required to pay the monitor $700 per day, no matter how much money they bring in. New Jersey fisherman Bill Bright’s company, Loper Bright Enterprises, is suing the Director of the United States Department of Commerce. His company has asked the Court to overturn the 1984 Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council ruling, which requires judges to honor government agencies’ interpretations of established law. Bright’s case offers an argument based on limiting the power of bureaucrats and allowing judges more discretion.

Bright said that the regulation that requires fishing companies to pay the federal monitors “isn’t financially feasible or fair” when he and his crew could potentially make less than the monitor. Lund Fisheries co-owner Wayne Reichle made clear that responsible fishing was a top priority for his company because healthy waters keep his business operating. However, he said that his company does not think it “should be responsible for covering the monitors’ salaries.” The fishermen believe that the Supreme Court could either make or break their livelihoods, depending on which way it rules. The decision will come before June when the current term of the Court ends.

Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch has indicated that he believes the Chevron decision should be overturned, but he will need at least four other conservative justices to agree with him. The Natural Resources Defense Council said that courts are required to keep government agencies in check. It believes that Chevron often prevents that from happening, as lower court judges often use the Supreme Court ruling when deciding cases.

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