Small Business Interests Prevail in Major Cases of U.S. Supreme Court’s 2023-2024 Term

Date: July 03, 2024

The NFIB Legal Center was extremely active at the Supreme Court during its 2023-2024 term. We participated in 12 cases, representing over 20% of the Court’s total cases. This is a marked increase compared to the previous two terms, where the NFIB Legal Center participated in roughly 10% of the Court’s total cases.

“The U.S. Supreme Court is often the final protection for the rights of small business owners,” said Beth Milito, Executive Director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center. “When administrative agencies impose costly and burdensome mandates on small businesses, and the legislative branch refuses to protect small businesses, the Constitution and Supreme Court are the last resort. We are pleased that in many of this term’s most consequential cases, the Court sided with America’s small businesses.”

To highlight the term, we summarized a few of NFIB’s cases where the Supreme Court ruled in favor of small business interests at the expense of federal agencies.

Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo: Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council is dead! In this landmark case, NFIB’s amicus brief urged the Court to overrule Chevron because it created unchecked agency power, legislative indifference, and judicial passivity. The Court agreed and eliminated Chevron deference. Courts must now exercise independent judgment instead of deferring to federal regulators, and agencies will have to show that their legal interpretations are not just “reasonable,” but the best interpretation of a statute.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) v. Jarkesy: The Court held that the Constitution’s 7th Amendment requires a jury trial for individuals facing SEC enforcement proceedings and that the SEC’s in-house adjudicatory process impermissibly allowed the roles of prosecutor, judge, and jury to be in the hands of one agency. Going forward, defendants facing civil penalties in SEC proceedings can defend themselves in front of a neutral jury in a neutral forum.
Corner Post, Inc. v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System: In a win for small business Corner Post, the Court ruled that the federal 6-year time limit to challenge an agency’s rule starts when a business is harmed by the rule, not when a rule is issued. The Court’s decision matched the position NFIB argued in its amicus brief. This underreported case has the potential to be the most consequential of the term. From now on, new businesses that were not open or operational when a rule was published will still be able to challenge that rule in court.
Starbucks v. McKinney: In a big win for employers, the Court decided that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) must satisfy the same traditional four-factor injunction standard as non-government parties requesting an injunction. Our brief argued for this position, claiming that the NLRB should not get special treatment. In a near-unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court agreed. This decision will make it harder for the NLRB to halt small business activity.

Of our 12 cases from this term, NFIB garnered five wins, five losses, and two neutral decisions. In addition to the cases above, we participated in:

There was an obvious loser at the Supreme Court this year: administrative agencies and unelected bureaucrats. In case after case, the Supreme Court reined in administrative overreach and abuse of power. These cases are not one-offs, but instead represent a sea change in the landscape of how administrative agencies can operate. A major beneficiary of these decisions? Small businesses!

The NFIB Legal Center looks forward to protecting the rights of small businesses at the Supreme Court when its 2024-2025 term begins this Fall.

For questions on any of these cases or other Legal Center activity, contact us at [email protected].

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