OK – I’m not a lawyer and who am I to question the judgement of the top judges in the US, especially not the Supreme Court. Having said that I certainly feel that they must be living in a bubble. Maybe they don’t live in the real world. Where have they been these last few years?
One of the things that happened at the historic court case yesterday was proving the question of “standing”. Any plaintiff in a US federal court must establish “standing to sue”, by proving there is an injury that can be traced to the defendant’s behavior and that will be relieved by the action the lawsuit requests.
The New York Times reports how: “Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., along with Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr., expressed strong doubts that the plaintiffs, represented by Assistant Attorney General James R. Milkey of Massachusetts, could meet those interrelated conditions by showing that global climate change presented a sufficiently tangible and imminent danger that could be adequately addressed by regulating emissions from new cars and trucks.
“You have to show the harm is imminent,” said Justice Scalia, asking, “I mean, when is the cataclysm?”
Say that again Justice Scalia, where is the cataclysm? have you not heard about record temperatures, melting glaciers, unprecedented droughts, melting ice-caps, and sea-level rise. Have you not read the IPCC or Stern reports? What light reading do you do over your corn-flakes?
Then, according to the Times, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito both suggested that because motor vehicles account for only about 6 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, even aggressive federal regulation would not be great enough to make a difference, another requirement of the standing doctrine.
What a no-brainer that is. If you follow that argument no one does anything because everyone else is to blame. And you thought these guys were meant to be intelligent. Maybe they can’t see the ral world from their tinted-screen limos. Or do they drive a Hummer?
Happily, I suppose, it also seems that four justices had very little issue with standing, and that the swing vote lies with Justice Anthony Kennedy.
What I find most interesting about all this is that the suit brought by Mass. et. al. was done long ago, prior to the recent Democratic shift in Congress. The Court may or may not find that Mass. has standing. But that was and is a back door approach to climate regulation.
It seems certain that something will move through the current Congress on climate change – that something may be pathetically weak (see McCain Lieberman), but at least something is finally happenning through the front door of Congress.
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