Split court rules against Bush on greenhouse gases

Climate Change

News out of Washington DC today:

Link: Split court rules against Bush on greenhouse gases – CNN.com.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ordered the federal government on Monday to take a fresh look at regulating carbon dioxide emissions from cars, a rebuke to Bush administration policy on global warming.

In a 5-4 decision, the court said the Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from cars.

Greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the landmark environmental law, Justice John Paul Stevens said in his majority opinion.

The court’s four conservative justices — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — dissented.

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  1. Interesting that all 4 of the conservative judges voted against. I believe John Roberts wrote that the plaintiffs did not have standing and that the matter should be handled by the legislative and executive branches. Certainly, this could be done; it would probably be as difficult as bringing the lawsuit all the way to the Supreme Court. Even if the conservatives had prevailed, this wouldn’t have been fatal.
    However, I have to say that it’s good that Bush won’t have the chance to pack the court even more than he has already done. I expect to see a lot more of these 5-4 decisions in the future around issues like environmental law and human rights. I hope that Americans will consider carefully any future nominees’ track records and tell their Congresspeople what they think. I hope that future Presidents, regardless of what party, will pack the court with moderates, rather than extremists like Scalia and Thomas. And I hope that Roberts and Alito turn out to be moderate conservatives … iirc, they’ve so far opposed all the decisions affecting Guantanamo detainees, which is not a great sign of their commitment to civil liberties.

  2. There is a pretty good and readable analysis of the decision (albeit from the point of view of lawyers for the regulated community) here:
    I think the most interesting part of the decision was not the decision on whether the EPA could regulate green house gases, but rather the discussion of why the court was unpersuaded by the Bush Administration’s decision not to exercise that authority.

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