Samuel Alito & The Environment

samuel-alito-01.jpgSamuel Alito Jr. is George W. Bush's new Supreme Court nominee. Grist Magazine has an interesting piece on what is known about judge Alito's positions on the environment: "He's been dubbed "Scalito" for having a judicial philosophy closely akin to that of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia [...] That comparison alone is enough to raise the hackles of enviros, many of whom see Scalia as a right-wing ideologue more staunchly opposed to environmental regulation -- and federal-level authority in general -- than any other justice on the Supreme Court. And at 55 years of age, some 14 years younger than Scalia, Alito would be in a position to influence environmental jurisprudence for decades to come."

When examining the whole of Alito's record, however, environmentalists found little that was encouraging. "Here's our initial assessment of his record: some good, but more bad and ugly," Glenn Sugameli, Earthjustice senior legislative counsel, told Muckraker. "We're extremely concerned that Alito has repeatedly sought to restrict Congress' authority to allow Americans to protect their rights in court, and to enact laws that protect our health and environment. His record in these cases is more hostile to congressional authority than the current Supreme Court majority." [...]

Alito's extensive track record on the court isn't entirely devoid of pro-environment decisions. Take, for instance, the 1995 ruling on Pennsylvania Coal Association v. Bruce Babbitt, in which Alito rejected an industry challenge to the toughening of an environmental law on coal mining. Or the 1997 ruling on Southwestern Pennsylvania Growth Alliance v. Carol Browner, in which he joined a consensus in denying industry's efforts to skirt pollution rules under the Clean Air Act.

Critics, though, say such instances are rare. Alito appears to have favored environmental protections "mainly in the face of unanimous agreement and overwhelming evidence against polluters," said Doug Kendall, executive director of the Community Rights Counsel, a D.C.-based public-interest law firm that defends environmental laws against constitutional challenges.

Read the whole thing: ::The Sum of Alito Fears


treehugger slideshows