U.S. Supreme Court

Justice Breyer’s Nuanced Voice for the Environment

Not much for rhetoric, but a reliable vote for environmental protection.

There was a lot of speculation last summer about whether Justice Stephen Breyer would retire. At this point, the answer is obviously “not yet.” As we move further into another Supreme Court term, it seems timely to take a look at his environmental record.  No doubt the question his retirement will arise again next June …

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Is the ‘Vaccine Mandate’ Legal?

Despite all the political huffing and puffing, Biden’s order has a solid legal basis.

Incensed critics are calling Biden’s proposed “vaccine mandate” an outrageous usurpation of power. They need to take a deep breath. It’s not really a vaccine mandate, the only statutory issue is procedural, and there’s no constitutional problem. Calling Biden’s order a vaccine mandate is misleading. It could just as well be considered a testing mandate …

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Another Worrisome Signal from the Supreme Court

Phrases that should frighten environmentalists: “Shadow docket ” “Major questions doctrine”

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court struck down the CDC eviction moratorium in the Alabama Association of Realtors case. The case may seem far removed from environmental law, but it has some troubling implications for future EPA regulatory initiatives. The process used by the Supreme Court to intervene is as significant as the ruling itself. This …

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Environmentalism and the Supreme Court

Some cases belong to the environmentalist legal canon, others to an anti-canon of reviled precedents.

Every field has its texts that form part of its intellectual canon, and others that form a kind of anti-canon of rejected ideas.  The same is true in environmental law. The issue goes beyond which side wins. From the pro-environmental side of things, some Supreme Court rulings form guideposts to rely on, whereas others represent …

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Supervillains of the Enviro-Verse

🏴‍☠️ For your amusement: a rogues gallery of anti-Green villainy. 🏴‍☠️

Movements are defined as much by who and what they oppose as what they favor. To understand environmentalism, you have to know how it defines its opponents.  Reality, of course, is always nuanced, but nuance isn’t much fun. Although I was originally going to provide a more serious treatment, I decided instead to have a …

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The Illusions of Takings Law

Nothing is as it seems, when the issue is whether a regulation is a “taking” of property.

For the last century, the Supreme Court has tried to operationalize the idea that a government regulation can be so burdensome that it amounts to a seizure of property. In the process, it has created a house of mirrors, a maze in which nothing is as it seems. Rules that appear crisp and clear turn …

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Supreme Court Finds California Labor Access Regulation Works Unconstitutional Taking of Private Property

What Are the Implications of the Cedar Point Nursery Decision for Environmental, Natural Resources & Public Health Programs?

In a closely-watched property rights decision, the U.S. Supreme Court today held unconstitutional a longstanding California regulation allowing labor unions intermittent access to agricultural workplaces for labor organizing purposes.  Reversing a decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a 6-3 Supreme Court majority ruled that the challenged regulation triggers a per se, compensable government “taking” …

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The Supreme Court’s (Non-)Decision in Major Climate Change Case

BP P.L.C. v. Baltimore Ruling a Technical Win for Energy Defendants–But There’s Less There Than Meets the Eye

Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued its first major environmental decision of the Court’s current Term–and in a climate change case, no less: BP P.L.C v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore. Superficially, the multinational energy corporations sued by the City of Baltimore prevailed, in a 7-1 majority opinion authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch.  But …

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Five Myths About Climate Policy

Debate about climate policy is often distorted by misconceptions.

In this post, I want to talk about some of the ideas that make it hard to have sensible discussions about climate policy. I don’t mean outright climate denial.  Instead, I’m talking about less blatant misconceptions that keep many people from thinking seriously about cutting carbon emissions. Myth #1. EPA climate rules are a regulatory …

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The Nondelegation Doctrine and Its Threat to Environmental Law

Here’s what the doctrine means and why it has suddenly become so significant.

If you ask Supreme Court experts what keeps them up at night, the answer is likely to be the non-delegation doctrine. If you are among the 99.9% of Americans who’ve never heard of it, here’s an explainer of the doctrine and what the 6-3 Court might do with it. What’s the nondelegation doctrine? Simply put, …

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