SCOTUS requires EPA to consider global warming
April 2, 2007 10:21 AM   Subscribe

In a 5-4 opinion [pdf], the Supreme Court concluded today that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases that may contribute to global warming, and must examine the scientific evidence of a link between those gases contained in the exhausts of new cars and trucks and climate change. Justice Stevens wrote the majority opinion, and Justice Scalia wrote a dissent, joined by Roberts, Thomas, and Alito. ScotusBlog summary here.
posted by monju_bosatsu (30 comments total)

 
In short, EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for
its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or
contribute to climate change. Its action was therefore
“arbitrary, capricious, . . . or otherwise not in accordance
with law.” 42 U. S. C. §7607(d)(9)(A) . . . We hold only that EPA must ground its reasons for action or inaction in the statute.


Sounds fair to me; there's a historical, scientifically-sound basis for auto emissions having negative environmental impact [1, 2]. Finding out if cars have an impact on climate change is the mission the EPA is charged with.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:31 AM on April 2, 2007


What's funny is that this ruling came on the same day the Court rejected an appeal from Guantanamo prisoners being held indefinitely. Except only one of these rulings has actually made American lives safer, and it's not the one right-wingers are celebrating.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:35 AM on April 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


How To Find The Right Solution To A Problem:

Step 1: Check what redstate.com thinks.
Step 2: Do the opposite.
posted by DU at 10:46 AM on April 2, 2007


Nice but it's another 5-4 opinion with the usual split. One more Republican appointment and we'll have lost the court for a generation.
posted by octothorpe at 10:52 AM on April 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Christ, I hope Scalia has a heart attack. Roberts is OK, though I disagree with him on many, many, many things, and Alito's evil but young. But that Scalia...
posted by klangklangston at 11:00 AM on April 2, 2007


Oh, is it decision season already? I guess we better brace ourselves for the decision on late term abortion. Ug.
posted by serazin at 11:04 AM on April 2, 2007


This is good news. I hope that when EPA makes it's next bonehead decision (perhaps about this very issue since they were simply ordered to reconsider the evidence) we'll still have a court that will send them back to the science.
posted by OmieWise at 11:09 AM on April 2, 2007


One more Republican appointment and we'll have lost the court for a generation.

octothorpe: I understand your fears but Republican appointed Supreme Court Justices don't always vote according to party lines. Just look at the above decision: David Souter was nominated by President Bush The First and Souter voted with the majority.

It's not the Republicans that are the problem (NOT PARTISAN), it's the Cheney Republicans: incompetent partisan hacks (like, say Michael 'Heckofajob' Brown or Donald 'Hey! We Don't Need Troops To Win A War' Rumsfeld) who put party loyalty ahead of the best interests of the nation.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:10 AM on April 2, 2007


Fuzzy Monster, but the current administration is very aware about what they consider to be "disloyal" justices and go out of their way to pick ones that will always vote according to party lines.
posted by octothorpe at 11:20 AM on April 2, 2007


As Dahlia Lithwick says, the Supreme Court decides Bush v. Gore's Movie. This time the good guys win.

Bush's response: "They've made their decision, now let them enforce it!" (Bush has been reading a lot of presidential history lately.) Next up -- Marbury vs. Madison. He overturns that one and he's home free.
posted by JackFlash at 11:22 AM on April 2, 2007


Finding out if cars have an impact on climate change is the mission the EPA is charged with.

Yes, but is it the Supreme Court's job to tell the EPA what to do? Is the Supreme Court the vehicle to settle all instances where the EPA falls on its face? Or is that something for a Congressional committee to look into?

/me ducks to avoid thrown objects
posted by frogan at 11:28 AM on April 2, 2007


octothorpe: you're absolutely right. Are you thinking that Ruth Bader Ginsburg will step down and be replaced?

I'm hoping (yeah, I'm an optimist) that the Democratically-controlled Senate will not confirm any more Scalia-types.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:28 AM on April 2, 2007


...it's the Cheney Republicans: incompetent partisan hacks (like, say Michael 'Heckofajob' Brown or Donald 'Hey! We Don't Need Troops To Win A War' Rumsfeld) who put party loyalty ahead of the best interests of the nation.

I think I need more of a definition, unless you are including most of the House and nearly all of the Senate GOP in this definition.
posted by DU at 11:40 AM on April 2, 2007


Scalia pisses me off, but I love reading his opinions. His logic is usually pretty good, and he's sarcastic as hell
posted by craven_morhead at 11:56 AM on April 2, 2007


Nice but it's another 5-4 opinion with the usual split. One more Republican appointment and we'll have lost the court for a generation.

No kidding. Talk about not "politicizing the court" Thank god we have a democratic senate now who can actually vote these people down.
posted by delmoi at 11:57 AM on April 2, 2007


Yes, but is it the Supreme Court's job to tell the EPA what to do?

Yes, it is the Supreme Court's role to interprete the law of the land: specifically, statutes of the Clean Air Act which were written by Congress and signed into law by the President.

The Supreme Court ruled that those statutes were violated by the EPA, which not only means that the agency must consider carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles, but that it has shirked its obligations in purposefully not doing so.

What remains to be seen is whether the cabinet members of the EPA installed by the Bush administration will carry out the court's orders.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:59 AM on April 2, 2007


They haven't been able to even carry out things they agreed with competently; they won't do any better with this.
It'll just be another series of congressional hearings, likely at the end of the Bush presidency.

(And man, why can't we get going on impeaching him now? I mean, once the Dems, and it'll take a mighty wind for them to fail, take the White House, there'll be the huge rhetorical push to just leave the past alone and to look forward, while ignoring the massive ass-fucking Bush has given this country. Then, in 20 years, he'll be as loved as Reagan).
posted by klangklangston at 12:18 PM on April 2, 2007


I think I need more of a definition

Here you go, DU.

Cheney Republican (noun): any member of the radical right wing of the Republican Party who rose to prominence after George W. Bush and Dick Cheney took command of the U.S. Presidency and Vice Presidency.

Cheney Republicans are often connected with The Project For A New American Century, which strongly advocated for the invasion of Iraq.

*****

In other words:

Members of the radical Republican right who seized power, sidelined the moderates and the true conservatives within the Republican party, and then proceeded to fuck everything up.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:21 PM on April 2, 2007


David Souter was nominated by President Bush The First

Stevens, Blackmun were all nominated by Republican Presidents. but these were mistakes that they haven't really repeated lately -- Roberts and Alito are perfect examples of the kind of nominee that is extremely difficult to shoot down, unless Democrats basically admit that they just won't vote for somebody unless the nominee puts down in writing that he or she will vote to uphold Roe vs Wade.

And keep in mind that Thomas almost got Borked, but it was the Anita Hill/porn/etc problem -- I'm fairly sure that this Democratic Senate (well, a one-vote majority kept tohgether by a recovering stroke victim and by Independent Joe "Maybe I'llSwitch" Lieberman) would have a really, really bad time trying to shoot down an African American Republican nominee, say, a Condoleezza Rice type of candidate. a Hispanic nominee would be problematic, too, but I think they really try to won't shoot down a black Republican nominee unless there are major problems (like Thomas had).

By the way, I really think that Roe getting finally overturned would be a good thing for the Democrats: the GOP has been playing with fire for more than 25 years now, using Roe to stir up their religious base. let them overturn it, and let's see how America -- well, how American voters -- like the party that turned back the clock 35 years. let the GOP take credit for the first woman who dies in a botched backroom abortion, and for the first woman who gets arrested for murder one after her abortion.

Not only they'll lose a pet issue (ie, "godless Democrats want to kill your babies and burn your Bible, now give us cash and vote for us"), they'll lose donations, and a shitload of votes -- and the smarter Republicans know it. so even if they win the White House in '08, and Stevens goes, and they manage to lock in an anti-Roe majority, I'm ready to bet it'll be an electoral death sentence.

time does not travel backwards: desegregation, legal abortion are here to stay. you fuck with those rights at your own risk.


Thank god we have a democratic senate now who can actually vote these people down.

Senator Al Gore voted for Scalia back in the day, didn't he.
posted by matteo at 12:28 PM on April 2, 2007


(and poor Harry Blackmun, may his soul rest in peace, got in as the third nominee after Nixon had chosen two nuts -- he got nominated out of desperation, because the White House could't afford a third strike)
posted by matteo at 12:30 PM on April 2, 2007


(and if you're really curious about how Blackmun got to the Suprem Court, just google "Blackmun + Haynsworth" and "Blackmun + Carswell")
posted by matteo at 12:33 PM on April 2, 2007


you fuck with those rights at your own risk.

I wonder if the German labor unions felt the same way.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:02 PM on April 2, 2007


Interview with Chief Justice Roberts in the January/February 2007 Atlantic:
In Roberts's view, the most successful chief justices help their colleagues speak with one voice. Unanimous, or nearly unanimous, decisions are hard to overturn and contribute to the stability of the law and the continuity of the Court; by contrast, closely divided, 5–4 decisions make it harder for the public to respect the Court as an impartial institution that transcends partisan politics.
Interesting chart showing the percentage of the time the justices vote with each of the other justices. "Fifty-four percent of signed decisions in the first year of the Roberts court were unanimous--a much higher rate than the norm for the last decade."
posted by kirkaracha at 3:07 PM on April 2, 2007


Fifty-four percent of signed decisions in the first year of the Roberts court were unanimous--a much higher rate than the norm for the last decade.

I think that is because Roberts used his influence as Chief Justice to cherry pick the easy cases for the reasons in his quote from the Atlantic. He can't avoid the hard cases forever.
posted by JackFlash at 3:43 PM on April 2, 2007


Ha-ha. Republicans are dumb. Throw rocks at them.
posted by Slap Factory at 6:08 PM on April 2, 2007


Thank God this finally came through. Maybe now we'll start to have some positive action!
posted by willthethrill at 8:34 PM on April 2, 2007


No, don't throw rocks at them.
posted by bardic at 8:50 PM on April 2, 2007


Only if the rocks are especially large and heavy.

It is my personal suspicion that they deliberately let some decisions come out favoring a lefty point of view to create the appearence that the court is not politicized. But I decided to adopt a paranoid perspective in December, 2000.
posted by Goofyy at 7:53 AM on April 3, 2007


I think that is because Roberts used his influence as Chief Justice to cherry pick the easy cases for the reasons in his quote from the Atlantic. He can't avoid the hard cases forever.

Chief Justices don't pick the cases. All they get to do is 'lead' the discussion.
posted by delmoi at 6:16 AM on April 4, 2007


Gosh, I was just trying to snark about what I perceived as unthinking anti-Republican commentary in this thread, but then somebody actually threw rocks at Karl Rove last night.

If you are reading this, next time please listen to Bardic and don't take everything I write so literally. Thank you.
posted by Slap Factory at 10:45 AM on April 4, 2007


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