SCOTUS Threatens the Planet

As previously predicted, the SOTUS has issued a ruling today that cripples the EPA and limits its power to fight climate change.

Hey, they didn’t have greenhouse gas emissions in the 18th century, right?

Here is the decision, West Virginia et al. v. Environmental Protecction Agency et al. I haven’t had time to read it, and most of the commentary online right now was written before the decision was released. But Ja’han Jones at MSNBC anticipated that the decision “will likely threaten the very concept of a federal government.”

So, at the very moment we really ought to be having an all-hands-on-deck response to our looming planetary disaster, the SCOTUS doesn’t want fossil fuels regulated, because reasons.

Dahlia Lithwick: “This term, the high court has proved itself to be a kind of lethal combination of the History Channel and bazooka—if you’re taking the bar exam this summer, I would suggest that the answer to every constitutional law question is, quite reasonably, ‘facepalm.'”

Republicans, naturally, are very pleased. See Adam Liptak in the New York Times.

Ketanji Brown Jackson is being sworn in today. I’m really sorry she has to deal with this crap.

In other court corruption news, see Wisconsin Court Validates a Republican Strategy to Preserve Power.

Vintage illustration French cartoon, Caricature of an old Judge, 19th Century


16 thoughts on “SCOTUS Threatens the Planet

  1. In a free speech case in 1949, Justice Jackson wrote that "The Constitution is not a suicide pact."

    The Alito Court says "Yes, it is and we are taking the whole planet with us!"

    The Roberts and Alito Courts are out of control and there is nothing that can be done about it for at least the next 15-20 years.  By then, it is going to be too late to save American democracy or the planet.

    I am still looking for reasons for optimism about either and I am running out of years left.

  2. I sent this letter to the President, VP, my Senators, and Rep:

    This Court Packing Nightmare will likely tear the country apart.
    Judicial Review is not in the Constitution. The Court just asserted it in 1803. It has been permitted because it was used sparingly. And most of the decisions have tended to be within what was generally within the mainstream at the time. Dredd Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson were awful decisions, but they were within what the majority accepted. The SCOTUS really overstepped its bounds in the 1930s when they tried to shutdown the New Deal, but FDR was able to get them to back down. 
    Unfortunately, the Fanatical Five, don't have that much sense. 
    I recommend that President Biden and the Senate formally ask for their resignations. That he explain to the American People exactly what is going on, that it's way bigger even than Roe v Wade. That the Founding Daddies definitely did not intend for the country to have a handful of five, Unelected Oligarchs possessing carte blanc to just cancel everything the government does on a whim. Also, make clear that several violated their Oaths by lying on the Stand.
    He should make it clear that, as long as they are on the Court, we will accept only 7-2 decisions. That if the Five want something to happen, they have to get at least 2 of the other Justices to go along. Their opinions can't and won't be accepted automatically.
    The Democratic Senate should back him up. Maybe a few Republicans will back it too.
    I suspect that all the Blue States will follow his lead. I don't know how it would shake out, but the conversation needs to get started. And we need to start fighting hard to shut it down.
    Thank you,

    I don't know if this idea is worth anything, but I think we need to start with something.

    • "We will accept only 5-2 decisions…"  May I ask what planet you are from, George? If Democrats declare the margin that decisions have to be in order to be accepted, the states may declare what the margin has to be in order for them to accept the USSC. If the Republicans take the executive branch, they will elect to disregard SCOTUS decisions.

      In short, anarchy. Lawlessness.

      Expanding the court is a process within the law. The GOP won't like it but it can't be rejected arbitrarily UNLESS YOU GO OUTSIDE THE LAW. Which is exactly what you are proposing.

      Are we a nation of laws or not? You can't have it both ways.

    • Unfortunately, the Constitution permits justices to serve on "good behavior" until they drop dead. They can't be forced to resign because they are making bad decisions. President Biden can't fire them. The only way they can be removed from the bench is through impeachment, which requires a 2/3 majority in the Senate for removal. Ain't gonna happen.

      Yes, several of them lied during their confirmation hearings, and Justice Thomas broke a law when he didn't recuse himself from a case that involved his wife. I'd love to see Thomas impeached. But only one Supreme Court justice has ever been impeached (Samuel Chase in 1804; he was acquitted) and in all these years only about seven federal judges have been removed from office through impeachment (although three or four others resigned before there was a Senate vote), so the bar is very, very high.

      And neither the President nor Congress can stipulate that it take seven justices to make a majority. I don't see any way to make that a rule.

      What could be done is to add more justices to the Court. That is entirely within the constitutional powers of Congress. Biden doesn't want to do it, but I think if Congress passed a bill he would sign it. Whether you could get such a bill passed is another question.

  3. OV – Disagree. We can expand the court without a Constitutional Amendment. The decisions of the court are NOT popular. Yep, first target has to be the filibuster.

    A progressive court can strike down voter suppression and gerymandering. That would give Democrats and possibly progressives control in all three branches.

    Not easy but the court is indulging in ultra-conservative judicial activism for corporate special interests and religious fringe groups. 

    • President Uncle Joe is on record as opposing 'right-sizing' the court and I don't see that changing.  I see no reasons to believe that our current crop of Dem senators would support such a change even if Biden wholeheartedly supported it.  sEnema and Manchin would not be alone among senators who would oppose.  

  4. It is time for checking and balancing.  The earth is failing, and judicial ideologies are useless as a remedy for a very sick planet.  When we need global cooperation and judgement our court strips even national power and promotes fragmentation and division within.  With our democracy hanging by threads, the SCOTUS runs amok brandishing sharp scissors.  In a god they trust, but their god is Thanatos.  We have a big problem. 

    • There are NO checks and balances under a Federalist Society Supreme Court.  Little George appointed Roberts and Alito.  Like tRump's appointees, they were recommended by the Federalist Society – for tRump they provided lists he could chose from.  All six of the radicals on the court are current or former members of the Federalist Society.

      The Federalist Society's stated objectives are "checking federal power, protecting individual liberty and interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning".  Read some history on them; read their judicial philosophy; and realize they are in control'.

      Every seemingly crazy thing this Supreme Court does is straight out of the Federalist Society handbook.  There is plenty of evidence of what things are coming soon.

      Federalist Society – Wikipedia

      • Oh yes, a wrong-headed backward ideology which lacks pragmatism.  Inspired by Thanatos and a death wish.  This is the American version, but it's ideas and proponents' cross national boundaries. Many are blatantly Fascist.

  5. A couple of things come to mind:

    When the Democrats finally (if ever, with the KKKonservatives screwing around with people's voting everywhere they can) get the majority on the SCOTUS, I don't want to hear about "stare decisis" ever again.

    I want its opposite, "non-stare decisis," or "F-U decisis" – whatever it may be.

    I want that new SC to pull-up all of this particular Roberts' court's decisions, and "correct" them!

    Change them!  Repeal them!

    Or add some layers of empathy and intelligence – if it's there.  If not, rewrite the gibberish that came from this whining band of 4 aggrieved upper class White dolts, the least "Black" Black man of his generation – by his own efforfs – and a woman who, when she was a schoolgirl, was every "teacher's pet," snitched on everyone, and was the priests favorite!

    The second thing is:  HELP!!!

    This court has given KKKonservatives a good head-start on repealing all of the advances made since the Gilded Age.

    Hell, on some things,  back to the Civil War!

    And not having done enough damage in this session, these idiots want to screw humanity by limiting government's ability to set and maintain standards – and punish miscreants, too boot!

    Leaving these 6 Theocratic loons to control the nation's policies, is like leaving blind, deaf, and dumb Tommy to watch-over your valuables.

    We're done.  Help. Please.

  6. I read that Kagan warned about east coast going underwater. 

    It seems the extremes are Trumpian fact deniers. They do not understand biology 101 (roe) environmental science 101(epa) , physics 101(gun regulation). Roberts thinks climate change is 'crisis of the day'. Does Biden need to send some expert briefers over to disturb their authoritarian wet dream with real facts about world? These insulated fools will be the death of us.

  7. Oh yeah, let's completely obliterate our planet so that 1% of the population can get 1 few more million dollars in their pockets.

  8. Heather Cox Richardson (she teaches history at Boston College):

    Today at noon, Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the first Black female justice on the Supreme Court.

    Before Justice Brown took her oath, the court also signaled the end of the federal government as we know it….

    …Kagan’s dissent noted the hypocrisy of the Republican justices claiming to be originalists when they are, in fact, inventing new doctrines to achieve the ends they wish. “The current Court is textualist only when being so suits it,” she wrote. “When that method would frustrate broader goals, special canons like the ‘major questions doctrine’ magically appear as get-out-of-text-free cards. Today, one of those broader goals makes itself clear: Prevent agencies from doing important work, even though that is what Congress directed.”

  9. The good news is this SCOTUS is ending its session and going on vacation.

    The bad news is they will be coming back. Six zombies.

  10. I can understand why a traditionalist Biden would be against expanding the SC, even though we haven't always had nine justices, and the process of expansion is completely legal, doable by Congress.  There would really be nothing "radical" about that, other than the tradition of late has been nine justices.  The GOP has no problem casting tradition aside when it suits them.  They have, gleefully in some cases, trampled tradition, and have packed the court with extremist ideologues.  Now they have signaled their intent to reinterpret several constitutional amendments in order to roll back rights, many of them seen as precedence and therefore "traditional."  That is unprecedented.

    If there ever was a time that called for at least considering a non-traditional or creative response, this is it.  Even if he didn't want to do it, and again, I can understand why he wouldn't, Biden shouldn't be so rigidly "traditional" that he can't bring himself to even question the legitimacy of a court that has been hijacked by far-right ideologues.  Polls show a solid majority of voters disagree with the direction the court is going, so he would not be out of step if he did. 

    At least throw your party a bone and acknowledge the court is dangerously messed up.  Biden's my way or the highway, I know best, I alone can fix it approach is undermining party unity and confidence in his leadership.


    • Excellent comment! One thing I do find distasteful in the idea of expanding the court is the idea that it exacerbates the politcal and ideaological divisions that have already consummed the court. I can understand expanding the court as a solution to nuetralizing the spread of the religious based conservatism that has overtaken the court, but it doesn't correct the damage that has already been done or eliminate that poisonous element of imposing one's personal religious beliefs in interpreting the Constitution that has infected the court already.

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