The Supreme Court seems to be cooling to the idea of empowering state AGs.
Massachusetts v. EPA, the cornerstone climate case, contains an extensive discussion of standing which opens by saying that lawsuits by state governments are entitled to “special solicitude.” In the last few weeks of its term, the Supreme Court opined repeatedly on state standing. “Special solicitude” seems to be on the wane. Overall, I that might …CONTINUE READING
Two stories of the unknown environmental advocates behind major Supreme Court decisions.
My students often wonder whether they can actually make a difference. I like to tell them the story of Joe Mendelsohn. Mendelsohn, who worked at a tiny, obscure non-profit, decided that EPA needed to address climate change. His efforts, recounted in a book by Richard Lazarus, led to the Supreme Court’s blockbuster opinion in Massachusetts …CONTINUE READING
The climate crisis is unprecedented. So is its legal fallout.
In teaching my class on Climate Law, I’ve been struck by how many new legal questions courts are confronting as a result of the climate crisis. Dealing with these new legal questions is going to put stress on existing legal doctrines and require courts to rethink some basic principles. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court is pushing …CONTINUE READING
No, the draft Supreme Court abortion decision doesn’t threaten the standing of environmental groups
The implications for environmental law are far from being the most important aspect of the leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion overruling Roe v. Wade. The aggressiveness of the opinion in the Dobbs case signals a kind of activism that is definitely worrisome in other areas. At the end of last week, however, there …CONTINUE READING
Cases were few, but one judge was years ahead of her time.
In an earlier post, I tried to figure out when the legal academy first discovered climate changes. As it turns out, it was almost a decade later when the federal courts took notice. Those first climate change cases shed light on how new issues get litigated and how courts respond to new science. My research …CONTINUE READING
Guest Contributors Matt Lifson, Camila Bustos, and Natasha Brunstein: Redressability of Climate Change Injuries after Juliana
Juliana Litigation’s Disappointing Result Leaves Room for Future Climate Plaintiffs to Allege Redressable Injuries
In the landmark Juliana litigation, the youth plaintiffs sought a judicial decree telling the federal government to develop and implement a plan to do its part to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations to 350 ppm. The Ninth Circuit dismissed Juliana, holding that the youth plaintiffs’ constitutional and public trust claims were not redressable by an Article …CONTINUE READING
Guest Contributors Rosa Hayes and Samantha Peltz: Silver Linings in the 9th Circuit’s Juliana Decision
Juliana Litigation Provides Clues for Establishing Standing in Future Cases
For many aspiring environmental litigators, such as ourselves, the bold Juliana litigation was the little-case-that-could: it presented a novel constitutional theory to redress the climate crisis, survived a motion to dismiss against all odds, and went up to the Supreme Court not once, but twice. But on January 17, 2020, Juliana hit a significant roadblock …CONTINUE READING
Juliana Judges Surely Had The Higher Court in Mind in Drafting Their Decision
The irony of the Ninth Circuit decision dismissing the Juliana v. United States case this week is plain to see. Two branches of government — the legislative and executive – have failed to act to address an environmental problem that may cause the destruction of the federal government itself. The third branch, the judiciary, recognizes the …CONTINUE READING
Climate change may devastate future generations. Is there a way to get their interests before the courts?
Climate change is not just a long-range problem; it’s one that will get much worse in the future unless major emissions cuts are made. For instance, sea levels will continue to rise for centuries. But the people who will be harmed by these changes can’t go to court: they haven’t been born yet. How can …CONTINUE READING
The odds against the “children’s case” are bad and getting worse. But there’s a valid insight at its core.
Juliana v. United States, often called the “children’s case,” is an imaginative effort to make the federal government responsible for its role in promoting the production and use of fossil fuels and its failure to control carbon emissions. They ask the court to “declare the United States’ current environmental policy infringes their fundamental rights, direct the …CONTINUE READING