U.S. Supreme Court

Do Epidemic-Based Business Closures by Government Trigger an Unconstitutional “Taking”?

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 …

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The Coronavirus and the Commerce Clause

Could Congress mandate CORVID-19 vaccinations? Not if you take some Supreme Court opinions seriously.

If we get a vaccine against a national epidemic, could Congress pass a law requiring everyone to get vaccinated?  That very question was asked during the Supreme Court argument in the 2012 constitutional challenge to Obamacare’s individual mandate.  The lawyer challenging Obamacare said “no, Congress couldn’t do that.” What’s shocking is that this may have …

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Here Today, Gone to Maui

U.S. Supreme Court Issues Environment-Friendly Ruling in Major Clean Water Act Case

This week the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the Court’s most important environmental law case of the current Term: County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund.  In a somewhat surprising ruling, the justices rejected both sides’ argument over the scope of government authority to regulate water pollution discharges under the federal Clean Water …

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Is Saving Lives Unconstitutional?  A Response to John Yoo

Takings law is complicated, but the answer to this question is clear. The answer is no.

Like others on the extreme right, the Hoover Institution is campaigning against “stay at home” orders because they cost too much money.  Regrettably, the most recent argument to this effect on their website is by my colleague John Yoo.  He argues that the Constitution requires states to compensate business owners for their losses. That’s simply …

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Federalism and the Pandemic

For statutory, practical, and constitutional reasons, states are on the front line.

The states have been out in front in dealing with the coronavirus. Apart from Trump’s tardy response to the crisis, there are reasons for this, involving limits on Trump’s authority, practicalities, and constitutional rulings. Statutory limits. As I discussed in a previous post, the President’s power to deal with an epidemic is mostly derived from …

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From the Grand Canyon to Contaminated Cantaloupes – and More

Five books with fresh perspectives on environmental issues.

Law reviews make little effort to track new books, unlike other journals in other disciplines . So it’s pretty much hit-or-miss whether you learn about relevant new books.  I wanted to share some interesting finds that have crossed my desk, joined a growing pile of unread books, and then slowly left the pile. The subjects …

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Deciding a Climate Case in the Shadow of the Supreme Court

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 …

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Looking Ahead: Inauguration Day, 2021.

There are 3 plausible scenarios for the new balance of power.

Inauguration day is a year from today.   What will the balance of power be then?  The House doesn’t seem to be in play.  Democrats have an uphill fight to win the Senate,  so a GOP White House would probably mean a GOP Senate.  That leaves three likely scenarios, with different implications for environmental law. Scenario …

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Misunderstanding the Law of Causation

Trump’s NEPA proposal flunks Torts as well as Environmental Science 101.

Last week’s NEPA proposal bars agencies from considering many of the harms their actions will produce, such as climate change. These restrictions profoundly misunderstand the nature of environmental problems and are based on the flimsiest of legal foundations. Specifically, the proposal tells agencies they do not need to consider environmental “effects if they are remote …

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Pride Goeth Before a Fall

Trump thinks he can tell courts how to interpret NEPA. He’s wrong.

White House has just released its proposed revisions to the rules about environmental impact statements. The  White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) simply does not have the kind of power that it is trying to arrogate to itself. The proposal is marked by hubris about the government’s ability to control how the courts apply the …

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