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The Minor Questions Doctrine

Few aspects of administrative law are as controversial as the major questions doctrine—the exception to Chevron deference that bars courts from deferring to an agency’s otherwise reasonable interpretation of an ambiguous statute where doing so has extraordinary policy implications. Proponents of the major questions doctrine believe that the nation’s most significant questions should be decided by Congress, not agencies. The doctrine’s critics, however, counter that there is no sound reason to treat major questions differently from ordinary questions, if such a distinction even exists. The elevation of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, two major proponents of the major questions doctrine, has reignited the debate. Both the doctrine’s friends and foes expect that the Supreme Court will soon begin more aggressively targeting major questions.