In a unanimous decision that read like a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Kisor v. Wilke this week. All nine justices agreed that the case should be remanded to the lower court, but they expressed dramatically different reasoning.
What it means, essentially, is that for now courts will continue to defer to agencies’ reasonable interpretation of their own regulations. For contractors facing off against agencies, it means that the agencies still have the upper hand—however, SCOTUS did try to limit it some.
Oral arguments are to be held today (March 27, 2019) on a U.S. Supreme Court case that may dramatically reduce federal agency power.
The case, Kisor v. Wilkie, asks the Supreme Court to overturn longstanding precedent which established that an agency’s interpretation of its own regulation deserves deference so long as it is reasonable. If the Supreme Court overturns this precedent, it could change the balance of power—in favor of government contractors—in certain disputes with agencies.
Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear a case that could have far reaching implications in agency law—including for government contractors. The Court granted certiorari to a case that could greatly diminish the amount of deference given to agencies interpreting their own regulations.
For contractors, a Supreme Court decision to curtail agency deference could lead to increased success rates in bid protests and other disputes.
The Supreme Court’s now-famous Kingdomware decision doesn’t affect the timeliness of SBA size protests of GSA Schedule orders.
In a recent decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals rejected the notion–based in part on Kingdomware–that an GSA Schedule order is a “contract” for purposes of the SBA’s size protest timeliness rules. Instead, OHA held, the SBA’s existing rules clearly distinguish between contracts and orders, and often effectively do not permit size protests of individual orders.
The 8(a) Program has survived a major challenge to its constitutionality–but the legal battle over the 8(a) Program’s future may well continue.
On Friday, a two-judge majority of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that the statute that creates the 8(a) Program is not unconstitutional. While the D.C. Circuit’s decision is a big win for proponents of the 8(a) Program, the limited scope of the ruling–and a sharp dissent from that ruling–signal that the fight over the future of the 8(a) Program may not be over.