Federal regulators suffer a new setback as the Supreme Court rules in favor of a North Dakota truck stop.

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In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court has paved the way for sweeping challenges to existing regulations, even long after their implementation. This decision is the latest in a series of setbacks faced by federal agencies in the past week.

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a North Dakota truck stop’s right to sue over a decade-old regulation on debit card swipe fees. The federal appeals court in Washington had previously upheld the regulation, but this decision allows the truck stop to challenge it.

In 2011, the Federal Reserve implemented a regulation that established the fees merchants are required to pay banks for debit card usage. According to federal law, any general challenges to regulations must be made within six years.

In 2017, the deadline for lawsuits over the regulation was set, according to the Biden administration. The challenge by Corner Post, a truck stop located in Watford City in western North Dakota, was considered too late by a federal appeals court, despite not opening until 2018.

In a bid to overturn a dismissal, the company has now appealed to the Supreme Court. The administration, however, has urged the court to uphold the dismissal, citing that governmental agencies would be subjected to endless challenges if it were overturned.

In a recent ruling, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, on behalf of the conservative majority in the court, stated that the six-year time limit did not apply to Corner Post, until it began accepting debit cards in 2018, when it officially opened for business.

Last week’s ruling overturning the 1984 Chevron decision has drastically changed how regulations can be upheld across the United States. This decision may take on even more significance when considering the Securities and Exchange Commission’s loss of a significant tool to combat securities fraud.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, along with her liberal colleagues, expressed her concerns in a dissenting opinion about the potential damage caused by the surge of lawsuits against agencies, authorized by the Court’s rulings in this case and Loper Bright, which overturned Chevron. She stated that such a wave of lawsuits has the power to severely undermine the government’s operations.

In response to Jackson’s claim, Barrett deemed it “baffling – indeed, bizarre.” However, she concurred with Jackson’s belief that Congress has the power to adjust the time frame for disputing regulations.

According to Dan Jarcho, a former Justice Department lawyer who has been following the case, the recent rulings will likely lead to more successful litigation challenges to federal regulations. He expressed that “Combined with last week’s decision eliminating Chevron deference, the Corner Post decision will unquestionably lead to more successful litigation challenges to federal regulations, no matter which agency issued them.” Jarcho believes that parties like Corner Post would benefit from the recent rulings and win their cases more often.

During the argument of the Corner Post case in February, Chief Justice John Roberts expressed the court’s predicament. He highlighted the possibility of agencies being subjected to repeated challenges even after a decade or two. He further emphasized the challenges faced by the agencies, stating that they had to create the universe repeatedly.

Roberts argued that it is unfair to prevent someone from seeking justice simply because others have not acted in a timely manner. He stated, “You have an individual or entity that has been harmed by the government’s actions, and you’re essentially telling them tough luck because other people had the opportunity to address the issue within six years.”

In a recent statement, Roberts emphasized the importance of the legal principle that guarantees everyone their day in court. He made it clear that this principle applies to every individual, regardless of whether someone else has already had their turn. Roberts stated, “It doesn’t say unless somebody else had a day in court,” highlighting the universality and non-negotiability of this fundamental right.

On Monday, Roberts joined the majority.

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