Challenge Rates

The vast majority of major rules – 79% go unchallenged. But the challenge rate has increased over time, rising from 17% for the Clinton Administration’s major rules to 28% for the Trump Administration’s. That increase means federal courts are playing a larger role in determining the fate of major rules.

Last updated 06/21/2024.
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Of the 1,870 major rules in our primary dataset, only 397 (or 21.2%) were challenged. But the challenge rate increased over time, both by presidential administration and presidential term.

Some agencies also faced more frequent challenges to their major rules than others. Six of the top 15 rule-issuing agencies had higher-than-average challenge rates: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Labor, Department of Transportation, Federal Communications Commission, Department of Homeland Security, and Commodity Futures Trading Commission. In contrast, some agencies saw few of their major rules challenged. We provide challenge rates for the agencies that issue the most rules because some agencies issue very few major rules. For example, two agencies had a higher challenge rate than EPA, but both issued between one and three rules: the Council on Environmental Quality and National Labor Relations Board.