One single fax message led to the first major decision in the current U.S. Supreme Court term addressing the tug-of-war between federal courts and federal administrative agencies over the power to interpret laws.

In PDR Network LLC v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic Inc., the Supreme Court considered whether the Federal Communications Commission’s orders interpreting the Telephone Consumer Protection Act must be adopted and followed by the district courts, or whether litigants have the right to make as-applied challenges to the validity of those orders in the district court.

Because FCC orders have historically been a major driver of changes in the law, the court’s ruling had the potential to significantly impact the future of TCPA litigation. However, the court found it difficult to answer the question based upon the record before it, because two “preliminary issues” had not been addressed during the underlying appellate proceedings.

Even though this first major decision turned out to be somewhat anticlimactic, the court’s opinion still drew some important battle lines over the broader question of agency deference, and will likely shift the way in which these issues are addressed in the lower courts.

Click here to read the full article by Womble Bond Dickinson attorney David Carter and former firm attorney Artin Betpera at Law360.