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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Judging the Environment In The News

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Publication State


Panel to vet nominee behind key takings, species cases (Environment & Energy (E & E) Daily, 06/12/17)
Amanda Reilly: Glenn Sugameli, an environmental attorney who founded and heads the Judging the Environment project, said he was concerned with Schiff's work at PLF. The group pushes "a very extreme unjustifiable version that only looks at the potential development of property and really ignores or fails to consider the impact that that would have on neighboring property and the public and the environment at large," Sugameli said.

LAW: Liberals hammer Grassley on lower-court nominees  (Environment & Energy (E & E) Daily, 04/07/16)
"Several dozen groups including [Defenders of Wildlife and other] environmentalists, labor organizations and civil rights advocates sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today, pressing him to take action on seven federal appeals court nominees and dozens of nominees for federal district courts. ... "While a great deal of public attention has rightly been focused on the pending nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court, vacancies on the lower courts must not be lost amidst the debate," says the letter sent by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 42 other organizations. Many of the nominees "would fill seats in districts that are currently facing judicial emergencies," the letter says. Many of those nominees come from states where both senators have indicated their approval, the letter says, which should normally "clear the way for hearings and up-or-down confirmation votes. Instead, these nominees have fallen victim to election-year gamesmanship." The seven appeals court nominees are Rebecca Haywood for the 3rd Circuit, Lisabeth Hughes for the 6th Circuit, Donald Schott and Myra Selby for the 7th Circuit, Jennifer Puhl for the 8th Circuit, Lucy Koh for the 9th Circuit, and Abdul Kallon for the 11th Circuit. "The Committee has a constitutional responsibility to provide advice and consent on presidential nominees, and a duty to the American people to simply do its job. In the coming weeks and months, our organizations will continue to make the case until it does," the groups wrote."

SUPREME COURT: Green machine ready to back White House in nominee brawl  (Environment & Energy (E & E) Daily, 03/15/16)
"I am absolutely sure that there is unanimous and united and very strong and active support within the environmental community for the need for a nomination, the need for a hearing on the nominee and the need for a vote on the nominee," said Glenn Sugameli, a staff attorney at Defenders of Wildlife who heads a project that keeps tabs on nominees to federal courts. "The members of environmental groups understand how important the federal courts are for upholding and enforcing environmental law," Sugameli said. Still, he added, interest groups will delve into the eventual nominee's record once Obama's choice is announced. Among the candidates rumored to be in the running, "I don't see real issues arising," he said.

SUPREME COURT: Green groups ready ... for confirmation fight (Environment & Energy (E & E) Daily, 02/23/16)
Glenn Sugameli, a senior attorney for Defenders of Wildlife, told E&E Daily he has been working "full time" on the Supreme Court nomination battle since news of Scalia's death went public. "Clearly, this is going to be a major issue for however long it takes to fill the seat," Sugameli said. "This is something that needs to be done." Without a replacement for Scalia, Supreme Court tie votes would leave lower court rulings in place, which could benefit the president's agenda. Still, Sugameli said the high court was necessary to clear up conflicting rulings. "The Court being now split 4-4 could lead to paralysis," Sugameli said. "It doesn't just leave lower court decisions alone. It leaves competing lower court decisions alone." Sugameli is also founder of Judging the Environment, a research project of Defenders of Wildlife that advises environmental groups on federal judicial nominations. Since Scalia's passing, he has been sending emails to members of the press and supporters and compiling newspaper editorial board statements in support of Senate action on Obama's upcoming nominee. Sugameli has also been monitoring public opinion polls and senators' statements on a potential Scalia replacement. "So many environmental issues are decided in the courts, whether they're enforced or upheld," Sugameli said. "The environmental groups need a very reasonable judge, someone who will enforce and uphold the laws that are on the books." ... Sugameli said, "There will be a nominee, and there should be a hearing, and no matter what happens in committee, that nominee should have an up-or-down vote in the full Senate."

COURTS: Obama nominates 3 to D.C. Circuit  (Greenwire, 06/04/13)
"The Grassley bill is a joke," said Glenn Sugameli, who tracks judicial nominations for Defenders of Wildlife. "The D.C. Circuit has an exclusive or leading role in upholding or gutting a broad range of national environmental safeguards."

Courts: Obama's pick for D.C. Circuit set for Senate hearing  (Environment & Energy (E & E) Daily, 04/09/13)
Jeremy P. Jacobs: ""The bottom line is this is extremely important for conservation and environmental groups because this is the court that has exclusive authority to decide, under major environmental statutes, what will be the protections for people, wildlife and the environment," said Glenn Sugameli, an attorney with Defenders of Wildlife who follows judicial nominations closely. "In many cases, it's a mini-Supreme Court," he added. "If you can't confirm Sri, who are you going to confirm?" Sugameli asked."

Judging the Environment (SierraActivist, 01/29/13)
Reproduces Legal Planet post

Courts: Judge opens door for Obama by taking senior status (Environment & Energy (E & E) Daily, 11/30/12)
"Glenn Sugameli, a lawyer at Defenders of Wildlife who tracks judicial nominations, said the vacancy "demonstrates the urgency to bring the vital D.C. Circuit appeals court back to the 11-judge strength that it had when the Democratic Senate confirmed four of President George W. Bush's nominees to that court.""

SUPREME COURT: Speculation starts on retirements, nominations in Obama's second term (Greenwire, 11/08/12)
"The Supreme Court is narrowly and deeply divided on constitutional and other challenges to basic environmental laws," said Glenn Sugameli, a lawyer at Defenders of Wildlife who tracks judicial nominations.

Animal protection law includes wildlife habitats [PRINT HEADLINE: Destroying a habitat can destroy an animal] (Examiner, 10/07/12)
Glenn Sugameli Letter to the Editor: Re: "Scalia slams reach of Endangered Species Act," Washington Secrets, Oct. 4 A correction to Paul Bedard's column is needed to let readers know who cannot be trusted on basic facts: Bedard, Justice Scalia or both. Bedard writes that Scalia mocked "the EPA's decision to expand the act beyond the 'taking' or injuring or killing of endangered animals to protecting their habitat. The expansion led the court before Scalia joined in 1986 to OK protecting the habitat of animals ..." But this compounds error upon error. In 1995, Bruce Babbitt v. Sweet Home upheld an Interior Department (not EPA) rule, and Scalia wrote a dissent. The rule did not "expand the act beyond" the injuring of animals, it defined statutorily prohibited “harm” to include "significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife." Animals, like people, can be harmed or injured by destroying the food and shelter they need to survive.

Supreme Ct Hands Valley Farmers A Loss  (Associated Press, 11/01/11)
Jason Rylander, a lawyer with Defenders of Wildlife, said it was the sixth time that the high court had "rebuffed radical attacks on the constitutionality of the Endangered Species Act."

SUPREME COURT: Justices decline to take delta smelt case  (Greenwire, 10/31/11)
Lawrence Hurley: "Jason Rylander, an attorney at Defenders of Wildlife, noted that the Supreme Court has now declined on six different occasions to take up constitutional challenges to the ESA. "There can be no doubt that the Commerce Clause provides Congress ample authority to protect America's wildlife heritage," he said."

Smelt Supreme Court ruling goes against farmers (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 10/31/11)
Bob Egelko: " Jason Rylander, a lawyer with Defenders of Wildlife, said it was the sixth time that the high court had "rebuffed radical attacks on the constitutionality of the Endangered Species Act.""

Supreme Court rejects delta smelt Commerce Clause petition (Endangered Species & Wetlands Report, 10/31/11)
Defenders of Wildlife senior attorney Jason Rylander, who filed an amicus brief on behalf of Defenders, the Institute for Fisheries Resources, and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, had this to say: “Six times now, the Supreme Court has rebuffed radical special interest attacks on the constitutionality of the Endangered Species Act. The ESA properly protects all species because of their actual and potential biological, economic, and aesthetic values. There can be no doubt that the Commerce Clause provides Congress ample authority to protect America’s wildlife heritage.” Rylander noted that five separate courts of appeal in six cases have found the ESA constitutional

SENATE: Enviro groups urge action on judicial confirmations  (Environment & Energy (E & E) Daily, 02/15/11)
Glenn Sugameli, who tracks judicial nominations for Defenders of Wildlife, said filling judicial vacancies is important to environmental groups because "people and endangered wildlife suffer and die when corporations illegally continue to pollute and destroy the environment for years because of the massive court backlogs caused by empty judgeships."

Joint Letter from Environmental Organizations  (ABA Journal, 07/19/10)
Senate Judiciary Committee link to: July 19, 2010 - Joint Letter from Environmental Organizations [Defenders of Wildlife, Audubon, Greenpeace USA, Earthjustice, League of Conservation Voters, Endangered Species Coalition, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, The Wilderness Society, Advocates for the West, Alaska Center for the Environment, Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Kentucky Resources Council, Inc., Audubon Society of Rhode Island, Magic, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, McKenzie Guardians, Citizens for Public Resources, Midwest Environmental Advocates, Conservation Northwest, Montana Environmental Information Center, Endangered Habitats League, Northwest Environmental Advocates, Friends of Blackwater, Oregon Wild, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Public Lands Without Livestock, Green Delaware, Soda Mountain Wilderness Council, Gulf Restoration Network, WaterWatch of Oregon, Idaho Conservation League, WildEarth Guardians, Idaho Rivers United, The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation]

SUPREME COURT: After week of hearings, Kagan seen as taking Stevens' place on enviro cases (Environment & Energy (E & E) Daily, 07/02/10)
"Kagan encouragingly emphasized the role of Congress in defining within broad limits who should have standing to enforce the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and other laws," said Glenn Sugameli, a staff attorney at Defenders of Wildlife, who leads the advocacy group's Judging the Environment project.

Earth Day Highlights Importance of Judicial Nominations, Lawmakers and Advocates Say  (American Constitution Society Blog, 04/22/10)
"Federal courts decide the fate of lawsuits that attack safeguards for clean air, clean water, endangered species, and special natural places," Judging the Environment's Glenn Sugameli recently wrote at ACSblog. "Judges must uphold anti-pollution and conservation laws against unjustifiable claims that their enactment exceeded Congress' Commerce Clause authority, and that they take away non-existent 'property rights' to pollute." "Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens's retirement highlights just how much Americans rely on fair and independent judges to uphold and enforce laws that protect people and our environment," Sugameli concludes. EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson echoed Sugameli's sentiments today.

Property Rights Groups Eye ESA Fight In High Court (Law360, 01/23/09)
Article extensively quotes Earthjustice's Glenn Sugameli on previous and future Commerce Clause challenges to ESA protections.

The Empty Cowboy Hat rides again (Badlands Journal, 07/17/06)
Quotes entire factsheet by Earthjustice's Glenn Sugameli on how "Representative Richard Pombo’s (R-CA) Endangered Species Act bill (HR 3824) ...would force taxpayers to pay unlimited amounts for any business losses from speculative development schemes that corporations never had the right to pursue in the first place."

“The bill would create an unlimited new entitlement that would force hardworking taxpayers to write blank checks to big developers and corporations simply for obeying the law that prevents them from unreasonably wiping out species,” said Glenn Sugameli, Earthjustice’s Senior Legislative Counsel.

COURTS: Roberts ducks questions on Commerce Clause but addresses ESA (Environment & Energy (E & E) Daily, 09/14/05)
Earthjustice attorney Glenn Sugameli: Roberts dodged the key issue of what harm must be shown to bring a lawsuit to stop pollution. "There's a lot of damage that could be done to people's ability to go to court that's totally consistent with Roberts' answer. The fact that he won't entirely wipe out the right to go to court on environmental cases doesn't assure us that he won't severely limit that right."

Estimates of payments under Pombo bill vary widely (Endangered Species & Wetlands Report, 09/01/05)
Glenn Sugameli, Earthjustice senior legislative counsel: “The CBO estimate of costs for Pombo’s bill is absurdly low, conclusory, and in conflict with economics, experience, the amount of pending ESA takings claims (not to mention Pombo’s and the Resources Committee’s estimates of lost profits and land value from ESA), logic and OMB’s estimate of the costs of similar” Contract with America provisions.

Greens Worried About Roberts' Environmental Stance (E/The Environmental Magazine, 08/23/05)
E Magazine reports that Glenn Sugameli of the environmental law firm Earthjustice is concerned that Roberts might question "the constitutionality of important protections under the Endangered Species Act."

A friend of Bush is no friend of the environment (St. Petersburg Times [FL] , 08/22/05)
Editorial column by Diane Roberts discusses John Roberts' poor environmental record and quotes Glenn Sugameli, senior legislative counsel for Earthjustice, a national law firm: "He seems not to recognize that he's talking about the potential extinction of a species."

The Toad Less Traveled (Investor's Business Daily, 08/16/05)
Editorial quotes Glenn Sugameli of Earthjustice, who says Roberts' view of Congress' authority "does raise serious questions" about how he might view "the constitutionality of important protections under the ESA."

Critics: Roberts Sides With Industry Over Environment (Associated Press, 08/15/05)
Associated Press quotes Earthjustice's Glenn Sugameli that Roberts' view expressed in the California toad case "does raise serious questions" about how he might view "the constitutionality of important protections under the Endangered Species Act."

'Hapless toad' case shows how court nominee thinks (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 08/01/05)
Judge Roberts' opinion questioning Congress' constitutional authority to protect an endangered "hapless toad" "calls into serious question his views on the scope of the (Constitution's) commerce clause ... which might have serious implications for other environmental laws and health and worker protection, civil rights and consumer laws,'' said Earthjustice's Glenn Sugameli.

Judge John Roberts: Mystery Man?  (California Chronicle, 07/23/05)
Sher Zieve column: "Liberal environmentalists, such as Senior Legislative Counsel for Earthjustice Glenn Sugameli, were upset (if not incensed) with Judge Roberts’ ruling regarding the fate of the Arroyo Toad, as it pertained to the Federal Endangered Species Act."

Toad opinion hints at Roberts' stance (Miami Herald, 07/23/05)
Miami Herald report on Judge Roberts extensively quotes Earthjustice's Glenn Sugameli.

Roberts and the toad: A Supreme Court story (Endangered Species & Wetlands Report, 07/01/05)
In-depth article extensively quotes Earthjustice and Community Rights Counsel on John Roberts' record.

Good News: Filibuster Deal Means No Vote On William Myers (Monitor, 05/25/05)
"The decision of moderate senators to reach a compromise that allows them to step back from the brink of all-out partisan 'nuclear' warfare in the United States Senate is a victory for democracy, and for our nation's protections for clean air, clean water, and special natural places," said Glenn Sugameli, who heads the Judging the Environment project for the nonprofit law firm Earthjustice. "The fact that William Myers will not be allowed to be confirmed shows how important environmental protections have become to the issue of maintaining fair and independent courts," Sugameli said.... "Earthjustice will continue to strongly oppose the nominations of Pryor, Owen, and Brown, and urge the Senate to reject them," Sugameli said. "Based on their records, these nominees still do not deserve lifetime seats on the federal bench."

The Endangered Species Act: law, policy, and perspectives (American Bar Association, 06/01/02)
Chapter 22, The ESA and Takings of Private Property, by Glenn P. Sugameli

Senate Farm Bill amendment would compensate Klamath farmers for loss (Greenwire, 12/19/01)
Earthjustice and others oppose amendment requiring paying farmers to obey the Clean Water Act, ESA, and other laws that do not take their property.

ESA took Calif. water rights, Claims Court judge rules (Endangered Species & Wetlands Report, 05/01/01)
Glenn Sugameli was highly critical of Wiese’s reasoning, noting the absence of any other decisions like it. “If you expand physical takings to this sort of regulatory context, where do you stop?” he asked. “Even courts that have been more receptive to regulatory takings have been very reluctant to expand physical takings, because you can lead to absolute rules. “I don’t think a number of grounds that the judge relies upon have clear stopping points,” he said. For example, a landowner who is prevented from cutting down a tree that serves as habitat for a listed species could claim a physical taking. The judge “gets around the parcel-as-a-whole issue” by concluding that the water limitations constitute a physical taking, Sugameli said. He also avoids any inquiry into whether the plaintiffs possessed reasonable investment-backed expectations.

Boise Cascade Corp. v. Board of Forestry: The Oregon Supreme Court Opens the Door for Successful Takings Claims Under the Endangered Species Act (West-Northwest Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, 11/07/00)
According to Glenn Sugameli, "laws protecting and regulating wildlife are a traditional, common component of state property law and state police powers,"

Alaska Congressman Battles for Changes in Endangered Species Act (, 07/06/00)
Glenn P. Sugameli, an attorney ... calls Young's legislation an attempt to establish "a new entitlement for people who have not lost any property rights according to every member of the Supreme Court who has ever sat..." "It's a claim of, 'we want to rewrite property rights, we want to create new property the expense of other people's property rights and the environment,"' Sugameli said. "These indirect [Trojan horse attack] through changing either the standards or the procedures that are used in a way that would tilt the playing field totally toward the developers and totally against the neighbors and the community."

House Panel's Approval May Be High-Water Mark for Overhaul Of Endangered Species Act (Congressional Quarterly, 06/23/00)
Julie R. Hirschfeld: ""It's always easier to make up a bogus argument that property rights are being hurt . . . than to do what they want to do, which is repeal the [law]," said Glenn Sugameli, a senior counsel at the National Wildlife Federation."

Endangered Species/Property Rights: House panel to consider ESA-oriented property rights bill  (Environment & Energy (E & E) Daily, 04/12/99)
""This bill is never going to be signed into law," said Glenn Sugameli, counsel with the National Wildlife Federation, explaining that when a similar bill was passed by the House as part of the Contract with America, President Clinton vowed to veto the legislation. . . . And Sugameli charged, "This is a Trojan horse attack on ESA. No court has ever agreed that ESA has resulted in a takings.""

Endangered Species: House shows polarized positions on ESA reform  (Environment & Energy (E & E) Daily, 03/31/99)
"Glenn Sugameli, counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, retorted, "There's no need to further the Fifth Amendment. It's already in place and it's binding." He continued, "This is a Trojan horse attack on ESA. No court has ever agreed that ESA has resulted in a takings.""

Endangered Species/Property Rights: Young introduces ESA-oriented property rights bill  (Environment & Energy (E & E) Daily, 03/22/99)
"Glenn Sugameli, counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, retorted, "There's no need to further the 5th Amendment. It's already in place and it's binding." He continued, "This is a Trojan horse attack on ESA. No court has ever agreed that ESA has resulted in a takings.""

Property rights legislation may threaten environmental protections. (BioScience, 06/01/98)
Glenn Sugameli, an attorney with the National Wildlife Federation, agrees. "I'm convinced it's a disastrous, draconian bill that would have major impacts on wetlands, endangered species, and a lot of other resources that are important," he says.

Senate Committee Passes Measure Aiding Developers In Property Disputes (Associated Press, 02/27/98)
"The one reason that this bill exists is the National Association of Home Builders," insists Glenn Sugameli, a lawyer ... . Environmentalists said that the bill is an indirect attempt to "run roughshod" over local environmental protection efforts after property rights advocates failed two year ago to win compensation for restrictions that protect wetlands and endangered species. Among others strongly opposed to the bill are the National Governors Association, U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and 40 state attorneys general."

Takings Bills Threaten Private Property, People, and the Environment (Fordham Environmental Law Review, 06/01/97)
Glenn P. Sugameli law review article

"On Tuesday, the annual conference of the Outdoor Writers Association of America heard a debate between the Defenders of Property Rights, the lobbying organization that has helped promote the legislation, and the National Wildlife Federation, which is against the bills. ... Glenn P. Sugamelli, the National Wildlife Federation counsel for conservation programs, documented other incidents, including a 1995 case where a West Virginia strip mine was threatening to undermine hundreds of homes and another strip-mining incident when the collapse of a coal company refuse pile that had dammed a stream took 125 lives and destroyed 1,000 homes. ... such laws, the conservation lawyer said, would hamstring federal agencies and cause them to look over their shoulders, fearing their budgets would be diminished by settlement claims. In effect, clean air or clean water regulations would be put on hold, along with the Endangered Species Act, he said. And with 24 states now espousing such laws, it could mean local zoning laws might be affected. ... "The Supreme Court ruled against them," Sugameli said. "They supported the concept that wildlife belongs to everyone and rejected the feudal concept that the landed aristocracy own and control all wildlife." Many of the assembled newspaper and magazine writers here are pretty conservative and against government spending, sloth and bureaucratic paper-shuffling. Yet many seemed reluctant to go along with the idea that property rights must always take precedence over saving a duck marsh, or a trout stream."