Numerous Key Environmental Issues and Doctrines Will Confront the Justices This Year
As we begin 2024, it’s useful to identify and assess the many environmental issues that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide this year. It seems likely that the conservative majority of the justices will erode or, perhaps, dramatically jettison longstanding principles of environmental law and policy in the coming months. Summarized below are …CONTINUE READING
A Century Ago, the Supreme Court Created a Transformative Legal Doctrine Out of Whole Cloth
One hundred years ago this month, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a radical constitutional decision that over the last century has proven enormously consequential in a host of environmental, natural resources and public health contexts. In the December 1922 decision Pennsylvania Coal Company v. Mahon, a divided Supreme Court created the constitutional doctrine of “regulatory …CONTINUE READING
Court of Appeal Rejects Water Users’ Legal Challenge to Board’s Emergency Regulations, Temporary Curtailment Orders
California’s Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District recently upheld the State Water Resources Control Board’s temporary emergency drought response regulations–enacted in 2014-15–as well as related curtailment orders the Board issued to specific water users to implement those regulations. In doing so, the Water Board rejected a legal challenge agricultural water users brought against …CONTINUE READING
Longstanding U.S. Supreme Court Precedents Indicate the Answer is an Unequivocal “No”
Lately, an increasing number of public and private voices have been raised in opposition to business closures ordered by state and local governments in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. In many such cases, that opposition has taken the form of lawsuits filed by business owners, claiming a violation of their constitutional rights. Gun shops across …CONTINUE READING
A recent report from the Petroleum Administrator relied on incorrect and incomplete legal assumptions about the City’s potential liability to oil and gas operators. Here’s why it matters.
This week, Sean Hecht and I (in our capacity as attorneys in the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic at UCLA School of Law) sent a letter on behalf of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust to Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, and the Los Angeles City Council. (Our letter built …CONTINUE READING
Some issues are perennial, like property rights v. public rights in water.
I suppose most of you, like me, have never heard of the Watuppa Ponds. But in 1888, a battle broke out over the legality of their use to supply drinking water for a nearby city. The issue closely divided Massachusetts’s highest court, and led to a heated debate in the recently launched Harvard Law Review …CONTINUE READING
How a conservative Court defended environmental protection a century ago.
Like today’s Court, the Supreme Court a century ago was dominated by conservatives. The Lochner era, from around 1900 to 1935, was named after the most notorious case of that period. The Lochner case, which struck down a maximum hours law for workers, epitomized the conservative Supreme Court of that era. Yet that conservative Court …CONTINUE READING
Justices Curb Ripeness Rule; Open Federal Courts to Takings Litigation
In the final, major environmental law decision of its current Term, the U.S. Supreme Court handed property rights advocates a major victory while repudiating an important regulatory takings precedent the Court had itself fashioned and announced 34 years ago. The case is Knick v. Township of Scott. By a narrow 5-4 vote that split …CONTINUE READING
Hardly anyone noticed a decision last June limiting the rights of property owners against regulators.
Murr v. Wisconsin was a sleeper case decided by the Supreme Court last June. But it deserves a lot more attention than it has gotten. As I discuss in a new paper, Murr was a major defeat for property rights advocates and a big win for land use planners and environmentalists. Murr has escaped much …CONTINUE READING
Justices Reject Property Owners’ “Regulatory Takings” Challenge to Seawall Permit Condition
The California Supreme Court today issued its long-awaited decision in Lynch v. California Coastal Commission, rejecting a lawsuit brought by San Diego beachfront homeowners claiming that permit conditions imposed by the Coastal Commission triggered a compensable taking of their private property rights. Writing for a unanimous Court, Justice Carol Corrigan concluded that the homeowners had forfeited …CONTINUE READING