The Supreme Court finished its term by stripping the authority of the federal government: CNN analyst
The Supreme Court of 2022 (Photo by Erin Schaff for AFP)

Looking at the collective term of the Supreme Court, the justices have slowly eroded the power of the executive and legislative branches of government, according to CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

The Supreme Court recently eliminated powers of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enforce regulations and disputed President Joe Biden's elimination of the Remain in Mexico policy and sent it back to a court where a pro-Donald Trump judge has been hostile to the administration.

Talking about the cases, Toobin explained, "conservatives [have] been so successful in the Supreme Court this term and for a generation have been pushing on these issues. And one of their great causes has been to limit the power of the federal government. Especially the administrative agencies."

The Constitution documents the separation of powers between the three branches of government, which were supposed to be equal in power. As the court strikes down laws passed by Congress, or the power of federal agencies to regulate corporations the question becomes if the Court is creating an imbalance in the equality of power.

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"The major question doctrine and the Chevron deference both deal with how much power administrative agencies should have," said Toobin.

Judicial correspondent Jessica Schneider explained that the court clearly came down against the Biden administration, limiting their power to use the EPA to regulate deadly toxins and protect Americans. The court decided 6-3 to limit the EPA's ability to regulate power plants.

"The Supreme Court saying here that the EPA does not have that broad authority that the lower court said it did to regulate the power plant industry and emissions in general," said Schneider. "This is actually reversing the lower court. This is sending it back to the lower court, but this will have broad implications for the EPA's powers moving forward. So I want to just take you through some of the procedures here."

"Basically, the lower court had said here that an Obama rule, which regulated carbon emissions from power plants and more broadly regulated power plants and how they should be shifting to renewable resources instead of just coal. They said that rule was okay, that a subsequent Trump rule was not okay. But the Supreme Court now reversing that and saying that, no, the EPA did not have this broad authority that the Obama administration said it did."

Essentially, the Court is saying that if Congress didn't give specific powers to regulate these issues then they can't do it. Congress would have to spell out specifically that the EPA can regulate such things.

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"We were just talking about the major questions doctrine," said host Poppy Harlow. "This court this term has used that doctrine to say no vaccine mandate, OSHA, you can't do that, you can't have an eviction moratorium, and no, EPA, you cannot issue this. That's a huge deal!"

Toobin agreed, noting that the case could be worse for the agencies under the executive branch.

"Chief Justice Roberts' opinion does not mention the Chevron case at all. Justice [Elena] Kagan's dissent mentions it several times. So they don't explicitly overrule the Chevron doctrine. It is sort of a classic Chief Justice [John] Roberts ruling. But clearly the direction he's going is quite clear, which is towards limiting the power of administrative agencies. But he does not go as far as some conservatives wanted in overruling the chevron case altogether. This decision is a defeat for the Biden administration. It's a defeat for the regulatory agencies and a defeat for the cause of limiting climate change, but it's not quite as bad a defeat on climate change."

See the explanation below.

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