Who Should Enviros be Rooting for to be the Next Supreme Court Justice?


Photo via drkatesview

Yes, another Supreme Court Justice is retiring: this time, it's the esteemed liberal leader John Paul Stevens. As the speculative stories of who will be nominated by the Obama administration as his replacement continue (Hilary Clinton?), let's turn to something a little less examined by the MSM--namely, out of the apparent front runners, which has the strongest record in voting in favor of the environment and clean energy policy? Who should greens be hoping is the nominee? Grist's Jonathan Hiskes examines each of the three supposed front-runners--Elena Kagan, the current solicitor general, Merrick Garland, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Judge, and Diane Wood, who sits on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Here's what he uncovered:

Elena Kagan
Hiskes writes that a notable indicator might be her time

as dean of Harvard Law School, from 2003 to 2009, where she helped found the Environmental Law Program. Kagan lured the highly regarded environmental policy and regulation scholar Jody Freeman from UCLA to lead the program, one of the most prominent hires of her Harvard tenure. Kagan also launched an Environmental Law and Policy Clinic that puts students to work on current cases.
Which certainly demonstrates that environmental law is not only a focus, but a passion.

Merrick Garland
Here Hiskes notes the role Garland played "on the D.C. Appeals Court in repeatedly smacking down environmental shenanigans from the Bush administration EPA. In 2004, he wrote the court's opinion that found the Bush EPA had deliberately dragged its feet on smog standards, ruling in favor of Earthjustice and the Sierra Club." Certainly an encouraging example ...

Diane Wood
And last but not least, on Dian Wood:

Her signature environmental mark was defending the scope of the Clean Water Act in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The case questioned whether seasonal and non-navigable waterways should be considered protected, a dilemma stemming from ambiguous language in the Act. Wood's majority opinion held that regulations should apply to such waterways.
The Supreme Court reversed her decision, limiting regulation--but that case may again surface, Hiskes notes.

Okay, so all three of the front runners have at last some environmental cred, and it appears no major grudge against green. Based on the facts available, I'd be hard pressed to choose an out-and-out favorite, though by instinct I'm leaning towards Kagan (who's rumored to be the top pick). Having the new justice consider environmental issues a distinct priority is a compelling idea indeed, especially at a time when there's likely to be a boatload of green-related cases cropping up, especially over greenhouse gas regulation . . .

Read Hiskes' full analysis over at Grist
More on the Supreme Court
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Supreme Court Ruling to Let Big Oil & Coal Spend Unlimited Funds ...
How Green is Obama Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor?

Tags: Barack Obama | Congress | United States

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