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WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration could take longer to write regulations and make decisions if the U.S. Supreme Court rules against a long-standing legal doctrine giving agencies extra discretion, food and drug lawyers said Wednesday.

The decades-old so-called Chevron doctrine directs judges to defer to reasonable federal agency interpretations of ambiguous or technically challenging aspects of the law. It’s unpopular with many conservatives, and the Supreme Court, with its conservative lean, recently agreed to take up a case that challenges Chevron deference.


The lawsuit does not directly involve the FDA. It’s over a Commerce Department regulation over fishing, but if the high court justices strike the doctrine, it will affect all federal agencies.

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