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Amy Coney Barrett as judge on the USA Supreme Court is not likely to help the environment

SUPREME COURT.  Could Barrett ‘shut the courthouse doors’ on enviros?   Pamela King, E&E News reporter, September 26, 2020 President Trump today selected Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the nation’s highest bench.

If confirmed, Barrett, 48, will become the Supreme Court’s sixth Republican-appointed justice, replacing one of the court’s most liberal members and deepening a conservative majority on the bench that could affect the outcome of environmental litigation for decades.

“The courts in general and the Supreme Court in particular are not going to be much help on confronting the major environmental challenges we face,” Vermont Law School professor Pat Parenteau wrote in an email.

Barrett accepted the nomination at the White House this afternoon, highlighting Ginsburg’s achievements on the high court.

“She not only broke glass ceilings,” Barrett said of Ginsburg. “She smashed them.”

Barrett’s record on environmental and energy issues is largely undeveloped, but several environmental groups voiced concern about Barrett’s narrow view of public interest groups’ power to sue in opinions she wrote as a judge for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where she has served since 2017.

In a ruling this summer, Barrett blocked an effort by a park preservation group and Chicago residents to stop construction of the Obama Presidential Center in the city’s Jackson Park.

The challengers’ lack of standing “pulls the rug out from under their arguments,” Barrett wrote.

She also signed on to a 2018 decision that asked the Army Corps of Engineers to revisit its decision that placed 13 acres of Illinois wetlands off-limits to a housing developer.

“Her slim judicial record shows that she’s hostile to the environment and will slam shut the courthouse doors to public interest advocates, to the delight of corporate polluters,” Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement yesterday.

Ginsburg, on the other hand, penned the Supreme Court’s opinion in the oft-cited 2000 case Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, which took a broad view of environmentalists’ standing to bring lawsuits (Greenwire, Sept. 19).

If Barrett is confirmed, the bench’s three remaining liberal justices — Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — will need the support of their conservative colleagues to grant any petition, potentially making it much more difficult for environmental groups to challenge Trump administration rules at the high court. The court requires that four justices agree to take up a case and accepts fewer than 1% of cases.

Chief Justice John Roberts has become known for siding with the liberal justices in decisions with impact for environmental rulemaking, but his power as a swing voter would be diluted if a sixth conservative justice were added to the bench. Observers have pointed to Trump’s two other appointees — Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — as the court’s new potential center.

“I would expect that it will be tougher for EPA to act as aggressively with an Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court than it was with a Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” said Tom Lorenzen, head of the environment and natural resources practice at Crowell & Moring LLP…….

September 28, 2020 - Posted by | environment, Legal, USA

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