U.S. Supreme Court

After the Court Rules: Gaming out Responses to a Cutback in EPA Authority

The Supreme Court is almost certain to cut back on EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases. What then?

In West Virginia v. EPA, the Supreme Court is reviewing Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) itself no longer has any practical relevance, but there’s every reason to predict the Court will strike it down anyway. The ruling will also restrict EPA’s future options. The big question is what the Biden Administration …

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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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Wetlands, the Clean Water Act & the Supreme Court: the Sacketts Return to Washington

Justices Grant Review (Again) in the Sacketts’ Longstanding Wetlands Battle With the Government

  This week the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Sackett v. USEPA, No. 21-454, an important appeal involving the scope of federal authority to regulate wetlands under the Clean Water Act. If the Sackett litigation sounds familiar, it should: the case has been pending for well over a decade, and this is …

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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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Defending EPA’s Authority to Fight Climate Change – at the Supreme Court

Sean Hecht and Ted Lamm co-author amicus brief on behalf of Clean Air Act expert Tom Jorling

This week, Sean Hecht and I filed an amicus brief at the Supreme Court in West Virginia v. EPA in defense of EPA’s authority to effectively regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Our client is Tom Jorling, a former Senate staffer and EPA official who was directly involved in drafting the Act …

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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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