FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 5-1-2023
CONTACT: Burt Peretsky, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, 781-696-5579
New England Legal Foundation Applauds US Supreme Court Decision To Review Limits of the Administrative State NELF Had Filed an Amicus Brief Supporting the Rhode Island Fishing Industry
BOSTON – The New England Legal Foundation (NELF – www.newenglandlegal.org), the leading legal advocate for free enterprise in New England, is applauding a US Supreme Court decision to consider stopping the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) from forcing fishing boat owners to pay the daily wages of federal inspectors, or “observers,” whom the fishing vessels must quarter and accommodate during their fishing trips.
In December, NELF had filed an amicus, friend-of-the-court, brief urging SCOTUS to grant a merits review in the case of Loper Bright Enterprises, et al. v. U.S. Secretary of Commerce, et al. NELF contended that Congress has only authorized NMFS, under the 1996 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act – the primary law that governs marine fisheries management in U.S. federal waters – to require that at-sea observers “be carried on board” domestic fishing vessels “and nothing more,” according to the NELF brief.
NELF President Dan Winslow cheered the high court’s grant of certiorari saying, “The decision to address the merits of this case is especially good news for working families in the New England fisheries industry. To require fishing vessels to pay 20 percent of their daily earnings to fund a federal employee on board, without any authorization by Congress to impose such fees and with no recourse by fishing families except to seek judicial protection, is unfair. We think it’s also unconstitutional and contrary to a democratic government that is accountable to the people. The fishing industry forms the historic backbone of the New England economy, so it is important that we stand with the working men and women of the fisheries to push back against federal agency overreach.”
“This case,” he continued, “presents an opportunity for the Supreme Court to better define the appropriate role of the courts in reviewing agency decisions. While agency expertise in a particular topic is important, it’s not so important as to strip judges of their roles as guardians of the Constitution. Judicial deference does not require abdication by the courts of their duty to ensure that government is accountable to the people through their elected legislators. Otherwise, we risk the rise of an unelected, unaccountable and all-powerful administrative state.”
Amicus brief author, NELF Senior Staff Attorney Ben Robbins, had noted that NELF was interested in the case “because an administrative agency, acting without any identifiable statutory authority, has required certain fishing vessels within the already beleaguered New England herring fishery to pay the daily wages of federal inspectors, or ‘observers,’ whom the fishing vessels must carry on board during their fishing trips. In the agency’s final rule,” he said, it was estimated “that an at-sea observer would cost a herring boat $710 per day and would reduce a boat’s annual financial return by approximately 20 percent. While the final rule singles out the Atlantic herring fishery,” Robbins continued, “that same rule also paves the way for NMFS to require potentially all other New England fisheries to fund at-sea observers. Moreover, NFMS’s interpretation of its industry-funding powers, if left standing, would allow the agency to require potentially all commercial fisheries under its jurisdiction to pay for at-sea observers.”
About the New England Legal Foundation
The New England Legal Foundation (NELF – www.newenglandlegal.org) is the leading non-profit public interest law firm in the region dedicated to addressing policy and constitutional concerns related to economic freedom. NELF’s ongoing mission is to champion free enterprise, property rights, limited government based on rule of law, and inclusive economic growth. NELF challenges actions by governments and special interests which would unreasonably intrude on the economic freedoms of individuals and business enterprises in New England and the nation. We believe that free enterprise is a foundational value of a democratic society and the best opportunity for people to lift themselves to prosperity.