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- SCOTUS Appears Ready to Upend Federal Law (Again)
SCOTUS Appears Ready to Upend Federal Law (Again)
Sunday, January 21st, 2024
This week’s core story is about: Upending federal law.
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Now, let’s get into the news and research you need to know!
KNEAD TO KNOW
SCOTUS Appears Ready to Upend Federal Law (Again)
Check in on your nerdy law friends (you know who you are), as the Supreme Court appears ready to overrule the 40-year-old “Chevron deference,” gutting decades of administrative precedent and taking vital regulatory questions out of the hands of experts.
In 1984, the Supreme Court issued a landmark holding involving energy giant Chevron that found courts must defer to a government agency’s reasonable interpretation of ambiguous statutes.
Under the doctrine, federal courts are obligated to defer to the judgment of career civil servants in government agencies because they have more expertise, research capacity, and obligations to consult with specific stakeholders than federal court judges.
What to know:
This week, the Court heard oral arguments in two cases involving federal regulations that require commercial fishing boats to pay for the onboard professional observers who monitor their catches to prevent overfishing.
The Court could have answered the narrow question of requiring the observers under the regulation, but it instead decided to take up the broader question of whether to overrule Chevron altogether.
The plaintiffs in the two cases are represented by prominent conservative groups.
Where we stand:
Media coverage of the oral arguments suggest the Court is ready to at least partially overrule Chevron, potentially narrowing it to cases where Congress has specifically given interpretive authority to an agency.
The Court’s decision is expected at the end of its current term this summer.
Why it matters:
Put plainly, this case isn’t actually about fishing conservation or deciding who pays for federal observers; it’s about which body – the courts or agencies stocked with expert civil servants – gets to interpret federal law.
Without Chevron, experts say federal courts can get stuck in intricate questions of statutory interpretation, which often requires scientific or technical expertise that judges lack and agencies explicitly have.
Left-leaning policy institute Center for American Progress describes a potential overturning of Chevron as “the most extreme power grab by the judiciary in American history, allowing unelected judges to impose their policy preferences over Congress and the agencies that are responsive to the electoral will of the voting public.”
“If the court overturns Chevron, it will have aggrandized its own power at the expense of Congress, the administrative state, and the president,” according to Jody Freeman, an administrative law expert and professor at Harvard Law School.
“It will gum up the works for federal agencies and make it even harder for them to address big problems. Which is precisely what the critics of Chevron want,” Freeman added.
The World’s First Trillionaire May be Just 10 Years Away
A new report by anti-poverty organization Oxfam International found the world may get its first trillionaire within a decade, as the wealth of the world’s five richest billionaires has more than doubled since 2020, while 60% of humanity has grown poorer.
Some perspective: If you saved $10,000 every single day starting today, it would take you 100,000 days, or around 273 years, to amass $1 billion, and you’d still only have 0.4% of the wealth of Elon Musk (roughly $230 billion).
Anonymous Tips Help Prevent School Shootings and Gun Violence
A new study by researchers at the University of Michigan found an anonymous tip system used by schoolchildren in North Carolina to report concerning behaviors by their classmates prevented 38 acts of school violence, including weapons recovered at schools, and six confirmed planned school attacks.
It’s Not Just You, Google Search Really Does Suck
A new study by researchers at Leipzig University found higher-ranking results in Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo searches are overrun by low-quality, SEO spam, many of which are monetized with affiliate marketing links.
Why it matters: According to 404 Media’s Jason Koebler, as the SEO industry and major search engines continue to optimize content, including by using generative AI to further optimize content written by humans, “The possible end result of all of this is that robots will continue writing a huge number of articles to please other robots, and that search will become even less usable than it already is.”
OUTSIDE THE LOX
Scientists Figured Out Why Cannabis Triggers the “Munchies”
Ah, the “munchies,” the oft-cited side effect of using cannabis that’s often the first sign parents recognize when realizing their child isn’t just having a weeklong episode of “dry eyes.”
What hasn’t been said about the pitfalls of diving into a box of Oreos after consuming a joint, before realizing said Oreos also came with a side of ice cream and Sour Patch Kids that you don’t even remember grabbing?
Not much, since every self-professed “stoner” has at least one or two munchies stories they recount as “epic” (but are really just sad).
Setting aside anecdotal stories, munchies sufferers don’t have a clue about the science behind the surge in appetite and seemingly endless amount of food you can pile into your gullet once sufficiently stoned.
Well, a new study by researchers at Washington State University set out to understand just that, finding cannabis exposure activates specific brain cells in mice related to the anticipation and consumption of food.
Until now, while it’s well known that cannabis induces appetite, the specific brain mechanisms underlying the effect had been unknown.
Why it matters:
The findings may lead to novel treatments for appetite disorders among some populations, like cancer patients and those with certain eating disorders.
4,839.81 - Where the S&P 500 index closed on Friday, posting its first record close in more than two years (the previous record was 4,796.56 set on January 3, 2022). The index traded as high as 4,842.07 during the day, setting a new intraday record (previously 4,818.62 on January 4, 2022).
$520 million - How much the Biden administration has recovered in unpaid taxes owed by delinquent millionaires, according to the IRS. The agency said it will also ramp up audits of 76 corporate partnerships with more than $10 billion in assets with structures that may present compliance risk.
28 - The number of billion-dollar disasters that struck the U.S. in 2023, topping the previous record of 22 set in 2020, according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The total cost of the disasters is at least $92.9 billion.
15,000 - The approximate number of U.S. cities, including Cleveland, Ohio, Buffalo, New York, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that are likely to experience depopulation of up to 23% by 2100, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago. The depopulation is expected to impact cities nationwide, except in Hawaii and Washington, D.C.
Long Video. Here’s what wedding dresses look like around the world. (16 min)
Short Video. Learn how to concentrate and enter the “flow state.” (5 min)
Fun Video. Why do windshields have those little black dots around the edges? (2 min)
Good Read. A quick read on ATMs and bank tellers, and how the rise of AI might not lead to the job losses some fear. (802 words; 3 min)
Neat List. From fake aliens to bogus semiconductors, here are 2023’s 10 biggest science controversies.
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Written by Ryan Wittler