Supreme Court

How Cohesive Are the Conservative Justices?

Signs of internal tensions within the conservative supermajority could be good news for environmental protection.

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, people known as Kremlinologists used to try to figure out what was going on behind the scenes by seeing who was standing next to whom in official photos. We have a bit more visibility into the Supreme Court, but only a bit. That being said, there are …

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Smoke But No Fire

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 …

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Taking the Court’s Temperature on Global Warming

A case on the shadow docket may shed light on the Court’s direction.

Court watchers and environmentalists are waiting with bated breath for the Supreme Court to rule on West Virginia v. EPA, the Court’s most important climate change case in a generation. The issue in that case is what, if anything, EPA can do to regulate carbon emissions from power plants and factories. Yesterday, conservative states asked …

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Major Questions About Today’s Big Climate Case

Here’s what you need to know about today’s oral argument in W. Va. v. EPA

The Supreme Court is hearing oral argument this morning in West Virginia v. EPA. The case is a challenge by the coal industry and coal states to EPA’s power to limit carbon emissions by power plants. Here’s what to look for today. Q: What is the case about? A: In practical terms, the question is what EPA …

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Which Front Runner Would Be Better for the Environment?

The three front runners have track records, but they’re not easy to interpret.

Currently, the press seems to view Judges Michelle Childs, Ketanji Brown Jackson, and Leondra Kruger as the front runners to replace Breyer. That may shift over the next month, but it seems worthwhile to give these three a closer look. They’ve all decided environmental cases while on the bench. I assume most readers don’t want …

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Justice Breyer’s Nuanced Voice in Environmental Law

In a thoughtful, undramatic way, Breyer has turned out to be a valuable supporter for environmental regulation.

Given Justice Breyer’s announced retirement, it seems like a good time to assess his contribution to environmental law.  When Bill Clinton nominated him for the Supreme Court, there was a great deal of uneasiness among environmentalists about Justice Breyer. As an academic, he had sounded a cautious note about government regulation, calling for more deliberation …

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More on How the Vaccine Mandate Cases May Impact Climate Policy

How much is the Court likely to prune back EPA’s powers?

In a Friday post, I sketched some thoughts about how the Supreme Court’s vaccine mandate rulings might impact EPA’s power to control carbon emissions.  I think it’s worth unpacking both the Court’s opinions a little more and the issues at stake in a pending climate change case, West Virginia v. EPA. The Court ruled in …

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Today’s Vaccine Cases: Implications for Climate Change Regulation

Today’s ruling are (somewhat) good news in terms of West Virginia v. EPA?

Today, the Court’s conservative Justices split the difference in two cases involving vaccine mandates, striking down OSHA’s mandate but upholding a more limited mandate for healthcare workers. The cases also split the conservative Justices themselves, with three hardliners (Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch) seeking a more activist ruling in the OSHA case and dissenting in the …

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2022: The Year Ahead

Here are the five biggest things to watch for.

There will be a lot going on this year in the environmental sphere.  I wanted to focus on a few big things to keep an eye on, rather than trying to give a long, comprehensive survey. Here are the five biggest things to watch for: Midterm elections. As of now, things are looking very good …

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Major Questions About the Major Questions Doctrine

You may not have heard of this doctrine but it’s a big threat to innovative regulations.

Unless you’re deeply immersed in administrative law, you may not have heard of the major questions doctrine. It’s a legal theory that conservative judges have used with increasing rigor to block important regulatory initiatives.  The doctrine places special obstacles on agency regulations of issues of “major economic and political significance.” In its initial outing, the …

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