Why crypto is shortsighted in celebrating Supreme Court’s seismic Chevron ruling

Why crypto is shortsighted in celebrating Supreme Court’s seismic  Chevron ruling
The Supreme Court has hurt ordinary Americans with its decision in a case that involved the power of regulatory agencies, Joanna Wright says. Credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock
  • A Supreme Court decision to overturn a long-standing Chevron deference precedent is being hailed by crypto leaders.
  • But the industry should not be celebrating rulings that harm consumers, Jo writes.

Joanna Wright is the regulatory correspondent for DL News. Opinions expressed are her own. A version of this story appeared in the July 1 edition of The Guidance newsletter.

Here’s a controversial view for ya: Crypto is shortsighted in celebrating the Supreme Court’s momentous decision in a case that challenged the “Chevron doctrine” that gave regulatory agencies power to settle disputes.

The industry talks a big game about financial inclusion, and yet it is hailing a decision that harms Americans.

Before we get into why, let’s recap:

  • The Supreme Court on Friday ruled 6-3 to overturn a guideline known as “Chevron deference.” The case involved two herring fishing fleet operators in a spat with their regulator.
  • The Chevron doctrine states that where the law is vague, courts should defer to regulators’ understanding of it, because they know their own turf best.
  • Scotus’ decision — as I reported back in January — will erode regulators’ power to weigh in where the law is unclear.

Why is crypto celebrating?

Well, the industry wants any weapon that could take down the mighty Securities and Exchange Commission.

Fair enough.

The markets watchdog has, under Chair Gary Gensler, waged a crackdown against the industry via the courts.

Far-reaching consequences

But Chevron’s overturning has far wider implications.

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For three decades, Chevron has protected Americans against corporate selfishness.

It’s the wall corporate behemoths crashed into when trying to erode workplace safety, environmental protections, food safety practices, and more.

That’s why conservatives and big business have long wanted to get rid of it.

The majority conservative Supreme Court doesn’t care about small-time herring fishing fleets — those cases were a convenient proxy.

It’s telling, for example, that the court agreed to hear only the bits of the case to do with Chevron.

It’s also telling that the legal teams for the fishing fleets — those apparent underdogs — were funded by petrochemicals billionaire Charles Koch.

If you still need proof that the highest court in the US is closer than ever to its corporate cronies, look no further than a separate ruling last week.

On Wednesday the court effectively legalised the kinds of gifts from billionaires justices have been accused of accepting.

Libertarians argue that Chevron’s overturning means out-of-control agencies can no longer regulate at will.

Don’t get me wrong — the administrative state needs checks and balances.

But Chevron was never a blunt instrument in the hands of regulators — the views of energy giant Chevron, for example, prevailed in the very 1984 case after which the doctrine is named.

Legislating from the bench

There’s nothing libertarian about what legal experts say will result from overturning the doctrine.

The consequences include drawn-out court cases, and giving unelected judges legislative power and corporations the chance to shop around for biassed judges.

Tearing it up will also enable non-expert judges to rule on issues they know nothing about.

So the Supreme Court’s decision is bad for ordinary Americans.

That should worry crypto companies that market themselves as empowering retail investors.

Trading Bitcoin can’t save a population whose access to clean water and air, safe working environments, and non-toxic food is being chipped away.

Crypto didn’t need Chevron overturned — it’s going to get everything it wants anyway.

Gensler will be gone soon, and Congress is warming to the industry.

Crypto’s celebration of policies that harm American consumers reveals where the industry’s allegiances now lie — firmly with the establishment.

Reach out to joanna@dlnews.com.