Supreme Court

Just in From the Supreme Court

The Court refused to hear two cases, but with noteworthy separate opinions.

The Supreme Court declined to hear two cases today.  Neither case was earthshaking, but conservative Justices wrote revealing separate opinions. The case with the greatest import for environmental law was Paul v. U.S. The facts of the case had nothing to do with environmental law, but the issue involved has large implications for environmental statutes. …

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Holmes, Brandeis, and the ‘Great Ponds’ Debate

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 …

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2020 in the Courts: A Preview

Some major new cases will be filed; older ones will result in major decisions.

There are going to be some significant environmental cases over the next year. In addition, some important new cases will be filed now or in the near future, which may have produced some interesting rulings. It will probably take more than a year, however, for some of the big new cases down the turnpike to …

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The Pro-Environmental Lochner Court

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 …

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Justice Stevens and the Rule of (Environmental) Law

A simple but powerful principle: courts and agencies should respect statutes.

Justice Stevens and the Rule of (Environmental) Law There’s already been a lot written in the aftermath of Justice Stevens’s death, including Ann Carlson’s excellent Legal Planet post last week. I’d like to add something about an aspect of his jurisprudence that had great relevance to environmental law: his belief in the rule of law, …

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Does the US have a delegation problem?

A comparison of US and Canadian environmental law indicates perhaps not

One of the big cases at the end of this year’s Supreme Court term was Gundy v. United States, where four justices signaled they were open to reviving a long dormant doctrine, the non-delegation doctrine, to constrain open-ended delegations of authority from Congress to Executive Branch agencies. There’s been various prognostications as to whether the …

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Justice Gorsuch versus the Administrative State

Does the Gundy decision spell doom for modern government?

Gundy v. United States was a case involving a fairly obscure statute regulating sex offenders, but some have seen it as a harbinger of the destruction of the modern administrative state.  In a 4-1-3 split, the Court turned away a constitutional challenge based on a claim that Congress had delegated too much authority to the …

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California groundwater management, science-policy interfaces, and the legacies of artificial legal distinctions

By Dave Owen and Michael Kiparsky

One of the many noteworthy features of California’s  Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is that it requires local government agencies to consider and address the effects of groundwater management upon interconnected surface water. That requirement is an important step towards rationalizing California water management, which has long treated groundwater and surface water as separate resources.  …

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Declaring a Climate Change Emergency: A Citizen’s Guide

Would it be legal to declare a national emergency for climate change? Would it be useful? Here’s what you need to know.

The possibility of declaring a national emergency to address climate change will probably remain under discussion for the next couple of years, particularly if the courts uphold Trump’s “wall” emergency.  For that reason, I thought it might be helpful to pull together the series of blog posts I’ve written on the subject.  I want to …

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The Power of the Purse

House Democrats have power to use appropriations process to stop Trump Administration environmental rollbacks

Dan has already posted about some of the big deregulatory steps the Trump Administration is likely to take in the next year. But the new Democratic majority in the House could have something to say about those steps, if they wanted to. Democrats will have even more leverage over spending bills than they had in …

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