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Judging the Environment judicial nominations photo
 

A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


Editorials and Opinion

 

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Maine Voices: Environmental stewards should stand together against Gorsuch: President Trump's nominee opposes the long-standing custom that courts defer to experts in government (Portland Press Herald [ME] , 03/25/17)
Ken Cline: Gorsuch, a federal appellate judge, has a record of extreme positions that proves he is too far outside the mainstream and too hostile to the environment for this critically important position. Gorsuch has been described as more extreme than Scalia, the most anti-environment justice in recent Supreme Court history. Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy will limit the access of everyday Americans to the courts and prevent agencies like the EPA from doing their job to protect our air, water and health. This is a dangerous view that will favor polluters and industry over the rights of the people. On at least three separate occasions, Gorsuch has denied access to the courts for environmental groups. Environmental laws without citizen access to the courts to enforce them are a hollow promise. ... We must hold the Senate to that 60-vote threshold..... Collins and King must raise their voices with us and reject Neil Gorsuch

Ken Grossinger: Judge Gorsuch wrong choice for Colorado's working families (Daily Camera [CO] , 03/25/17)
Guest Opinion: for the majority of Coloradans — and Americans — who are everyday working people, Judge Gorsuch's record bodes ill.... throughout his career, Judge Gorsuch has shown a pattern of siding in favor of employers, wealthy corporations and Wall Street — against working families ... He also has voiced support for legal theories that could jeopardize important protections for workers as well as clean air, clean water, and safe food and medicine that each of us relies on every day.... a "no" vote on Judge Gorsuch is the only vote that serves these families.

Letter: Gorsuch is less moderate than Scalia (Salt Lake Tribune [UT], 03/24/17)
Elise Love: Neil Gorsuch stated that no one had asked him for any commitments yet he has repeatedly sided with big business over the interests of workers and consumers. In contrast, Merrick Garland was a candidate whose moderate decisions would have balanced the court. The unconstitutional partisan conspiracy that blocked Garland must not be legitimized with the appointment of Gorsuch. The "best judgment" of candidate Gorsuch is actually less moderate than that of Judge Antonin Scalia,

Gorsuch’s big fat lie [print headline "Gorsuch's convenient untruth"] (Washington Post, 03/23/17)
E.J. Dionne Jr., Opinion writer: “There’s no such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge,” Gorsuch said. Gorsuch, the amiable veteran of many Republican campaigns, is well-placed to know how serious a fib that was. ... The best scholarship shows an increasingly tight fit between the party of the appointing president and how a judge rules. It’s a point made in “The Behavior of Federal Judges ,” by Lee Epstein, William Landes and Judge Richard Posner, and also in research by Neal Devins and Lawrence Baum.... The reason Republicans wouldn’t even let the moderately liberal Garland make his case is that conservatives who regularly denounce “liberal judicial activism” now count on control of the Supreme Court to get results they could never achieve through the democratically elected branches of government.... Gorsuch has done what economic conservatives count on the judges they push onto the courts to do .... conservatives, including Trump, want the court to sweep aside decades of jurisprudence that gave Congress broad authority to legislate civil rights and social reform, along with environmental, worker and consumer protections. Gorsuch good-naturedly evaded nearly every substantive question he was asked because he could not acknowledge that this is why he was there.

What Neil Gorsuch (Really) Means for the Supreme Court (Esquire, 03/23/17)
Andrew Cohen: He also is every bit the conservative ideologue that his most suspicious critics think he is. ... Gorsuch is going to rule overwhelmingly in favor of conservative causes and principles, just like the man who preceded him, Antonin Scalia. To paraphrase John Roberts: Justice Gorsuch will call balls and strikes all right, just like an umpire, only one team will get almost all of the strikes and the other almost all of the balls. ... he has been chosen for the High Court by the Trump administration specifically because of his politics, as expressed through his work for the Bush administration, his time in private practice, and the jurisprudence he has revealed during his time as a federal appeals court judge. The think tanks and dark money donors who supported his nomination didn't just buy in on him on spec. ... Bad news for environmentalists.... The ideological gulf between Garland and Gorsuch is going to make a difference in the lives of every American today and every person yet to be born here in the next half century or more.

Gorsuch’s Legacy, and the Planet’s (New York Times, 03/22/17)
David Leonhardt, Op-Ed columnist: I expect that the climate will end up being a large part of Gorsuch’s legacy if he joins the Supreme Court. He could be the deciding vote on pollution cases that will come before the court in the near future. Longer term, when the country next has a president who takes climate change seriously, many efforts to fight it are likely to end up before the court. Gorsuch is extremely conservative, and the best working assumption is that he will be hostile to environmental regulation. But that’s not the only possibility.

If Gorsuch gets through, big business wins (South Jersey Times [NJ], 03/22/17)
Letter to the Editor, Joseph D. Bastrimovich: If anyone thinks Gorsuch, or any judge, doesn't come to the court with an agenda, they are naive or stupid. Business-funded front groups like Judicial Crises Network wouldn't be spending oodles of money toward Gorsuch's confirmation if they didn't expect something from him.

How Trump's Supreme Court Pick Quietly Wipes Out Environmental Cases: Green groups may never get their day in court. (Mother Jones, 03/20/17)
Rebecca Leber: Throughout his career, Gorsuch has found creative ways of throwing judicial roadblocks in front of environmental litigation. In many instances, Gorsuch has ruled that environmentalist groups don't have what is called "standing" to bring a case. ... If Gorsuch's logic were applied to other cases, plenty of environmental arguments would be at risk, says Grab. "Judge Gorsuch's approach in this case is potentially worrisome to any organization that might want to challenge an agency's tightening of a regulation as not being comprehensive enough," she notes .... Gorsuch has also attempted to limit the ability of green groups to defend environmental rules in court.

Restoring Judicial Independence (American Constitution Society Blog, 03/15/17)
Caroline Fredrickson: Trump's selection process for a Supreme Court nominee was unprecedented. There are real concerns raised by the litmus tests that the president promised that his judicial nominee has met. Gorsuch’s record on the bench demonstrates a departure from decades of precedent. At the same time, there is information about the judge's time at the Department of Justice that is still unknown despite repeated requests for information. Add to this nomination process the fact that Gorsuch was selected by a president with numerous constitutional challenges that are already being disputed in court.... We need to ensure that senator’s questions are answered, and next week’s confirmation hearing is an important part in restoring transparency.

Guest opinion: Gorsuch no friend of U.S. workers (Billings Gazette [MT,WY], 03/09/17)
Al Ekblad, Montana State AFL-CIO: Working Montanans should be deeply concerned by President Trump’s choice for the U.S. Supreme Court. Federal Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch’s record shows he’s comfortable using the law to enrich Wall Street bankers and trampling the rights of working people....Gorsuch appears to believe in legal theories that are well outside the mainstream and that would hinder the federal government’s ability to effectively address national problems affecting Americans. If confirmed, he would likely continue to endanger important protections for workers, as well as clean air, water and basic safety regulations for food and medicine. He’s demonstrated he will represent corporate interests over everyday people at a time when America needs a justice who will protect the rights of all of us.

Letter to the editor: Oppose Neil Gorsuch (Camden Herald [Rockland, ME], 03/09/17)
Sarah Holland: Americans should be concerned about the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the position of Supreme Court Justice.... He has a history of favoring religious rights over civil rights, and corporate rights over individual rights with the most notable example being the Hobby Lobby case.... with Neil Gorsuch as Supreme Court Justice, corporations would become more powerful and hold more influence over our government, existing laws involving everything from civil rights, voting rights, environmental protections, labor standards, reproductive rights and more could be reversed.

OPINION: Trump’s SCOTUS nominee no friend to working people (Missoulian [MT], 03/07/17)
Al Ekblad, Montana State AFL-CIO: Working Montanans should be deeply concerned by President Trump’s choice for the U.S. Supreme Court seat. Federal Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch’s record shows he’s comfortable using the law to enrich Wall Street bankers and trampling the rights of working people.... If confirmed, he would likely continue to endanger important protections for workers, as well as clean air, water and basic safety regulations for food and medicine. He’s demonstrated he will represent corporate interests over everyday people at a time when America needs a justice who will protect the rights of all of us.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Our water must be protected (News Herald [Panama, FL], 03/06/17)
Col. J. D. Koutsandreas: he is trying to get Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court who is a far right attorney. That way when his legislation goes to the court, he is assured of a win .... Neil is a very talented attorney but it is environmental regulations for clean water, clean air and a healthy beach and seafood that we need here at Panama City.

Gorsuch will not improve Supreme Court (Monterey County Herald [CA], 03/05/17)
Catherine Metz, Letter to the Editor: The Supreme Court must be filled by people who judge impartially, guided by our Constitution. Unfortunately, Neil Gorsuch, cannot be trusted to protect clean air and water. His record shows that he will limit the access of everyday Americans to the courts and prevent agencies like the EPA from fulfilling their mission and doing their job to protect our air, water and health. Please join me in calling on Sens. Harris and Feinstein to oppose Gorsuch’s nomination.

Pope Francis's American Critics (Commonweal, 03/02/17)
Op-Ed by Anthony Annett: As Zephyr Teachout has argued convincingly, the defining feature about Judge Neil Gorsuch is his ideological predilection for not standing in the way of concentrated corporate power and wealth. This is obviously why he appeals to Trump, but yet again, this particular type of American Catholic is touting him as a judicial Aquinas! (I don’t need to point out that Justice Antonin Scalia was cast from the same mold, and that his death probably saved the Clean Power Plan—which, let us remember, was praised by Pope Francis in some of the first words he uttered in the United States).

Why Gorsuch could lead court in wrong direction (CNN, 03/01/17)
Prof. Richard L. Hasen: keeping the steady course with a conservative replacement for Scalia will be bad enough across a range of topics important to many Americans, from environmental protection to immigration law to the ability of labor unions to collect dues from their members. ... Consider how things will likely get worse in two areas that are the focus of my work, campaign finance and voting rights.... The court with Gorsuch, like a court with Scalia still on it, seems poised to kill off what's left of McCain-Feingold and potentially open the door to candidates taking unlimited contributions from individuals and perhaps even corporations. Things on the voting rights side could get worse as well. ... the simple confirmation of Gorsuch would not restore the status quo. It would keep things moving in the very troubling direction they were going while Scalia was still on the court.

Your Opinion: Gorsuch lacks respect for constitutional values (News Tribune [MO], 03/01/17)
John Bennett: During the month of February, Black History Month, we have been called to recommit to our constitutional values of liberty, equality, and justice for all. However, it is troubling that President Trump has put forth a nominee for the nation's Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, whose record does not demonstrate respect for those values, nor has he shown respect for the belief that the Constitution protects all of us, not just the wealthy and he powerful. ... Judge Gorsuch has shown a consistent and troubling bias on the side of big business against the interests of consumers and employees. His narrow ideological view of workplace discrimination laws is dangerous for workers. Judge Gorsuch would undermine countless laws, including those that protect the environment, worker's rights, civil rights, and consumer protections. These matters concern me as a citizen and as a person of faith. He should not be confirmed.

Judge Neil Gorsuch: Likable, but dangerous (The Hill, 02/28/17)
Wade Henderson,The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: Our Constitution demands that the Senate fully examine the record and judicial philosophy of the nominee. By that measure, the Senate must reject the nomination of Neil Gorsuch.... he lacks the impartiality and independence the American people expect and deserve from the Supreme Court.... As a judge on the federal appeals court, he has shown a consistent favorable treatment of employers and corporate defendants, and a reflexive rejection of workers’ rights claim.... The Chevron doctrine requires deference to federal agencies’ interpretation of ambiguous laws as long as the interpretation is reasonable, which has resulted in the safeguarding of workers’ rights, environmental protection, consumer protections, food safety, and many other protections for people’s health and well-being. Judge Gorsuch wrote that judges should make these decisions instead of agencies with the relevant expertise, which will likely lead to favoring corporate interests over individual rights.... From workers’ rights to LGBT rights, from protecting students with disabilities to protecting the environment, from voting rights to police misconduct, Judge Gorsuch’s decade-long record demonstrates he is a judge with an agenda. That agenda, unfortunately, is not in the interest of those who need the courts to protect them the most.

Letter: Kudos to Schumer for questioning Gorsuch (Albany Times Union [NY], 02/22/17)
Brenda Bergstrom: Sen. Charles Schumer's reservations about President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, ("Schumer leery of Gorsuch comment" Feb. 10 ) indicate the caution that characterizes true leadership.... Particularly glaring is his history concerning environmental regulations. Basically, he disputes the "Chevron Doctrine," which holds that courts should defer to the scientific findings of government agencies in determining challenges to enforcement of laws. Such challenges often come from industries objecting to environmental regulations. We can see where Gorsuch's approach would lead: that judges can disregard science and that corporations' rights override the rights of ordinary citizens to clean air, water and a livable climate. Because Gorsuch, like his mentor Justice Antonin Scalia, reveres the rights of corporations to free speech, he has shown no interest in restricting the role of big money in politics.

OTHER VOICES: Say no to Gorsuch, whose manifesto bodes ill for climate change fight (Las Vegas Sun, 02/21/17)
Billy Corriher: Anyone concerned about the health of our environment should oppose Gorsuch’s nomination. If Gorsuch is confirmed, his approach to reviewing regulations suggests that he could vote to limit the EPA’s ability to address climate change.... Even Justice Antonin Scalia, who Gorsuch would replace, defended Chevron and the need for judges to defer to agency experts.

Gorsuch must show commitment to a democratic America (Cincinnati Enquirer [OH] , 02/21/17)
Joseph P. Tomain: Garland is also known for his fairness, decency, temperament and commitment to the rule of law. What distinguishes these two nominees is only one thing – politics.... The failure of the Senate to honor its constitutional duty by holding hearings on Garland highlights how politicized the Court is currently.... Can the White House benefit cronies and harm citizens by increasing safety risks and pollution, reducing or eliminating cost savings, and raising costs to consumers? Or can the will of Congress override the administration’s power grab by safeguarding agency action discharged in the public good? These questions will face the Supreme Court. Where does Gorsuch stand?

Letter: Resist Gorsuch (Post Independent [CO], 02/14/17)
John Hoffmann, letter to the editor: The editors of the Post Independent want the Democrats to play nice after the right refused to even vet Merrick Garland ... I would say be mad as hell and resist the carnage of the right anyway we can.

Conservative Supreme Court justices are only concerned about calling balls and strikes, except when they are striking out (Washington Post, 02/14/17)
Tom Toles, The Washington Post editorial cartoonist's blog: The Clean Air Act defines pollution as a substance emitted into the air that “may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” But for Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., this rather stark black-and-white definition is a definition he doesn’t like. ... he manages to overlook the entire — and I mean just about entire — body of scientific work on climate change .... Then he goes on with what apparently he considers compelling logic to say that carbon dioxide can’t be a pollutant because humans produce carbon dioxide naturally, and plants like it! By the same logic, it would not be pollution for people to pipe their toilets directly into lakes and rivers or neighbors’ gardens. And now we all are supposed to relax and be confident that the next “conservative” high court appointee will also only be showing up to call balls and strikes. After all, it wouldn’t be fair to nominee Neil Gorsuch to expect him to tell us if he understands this portion of the Clean Air Act the same way Alito does, which also is likely to be shared by the president who nominated him. Because, after all, to preserve the decorum and deference due to Supreme Court nominations, the stability of the climate of planet Earth is not too large a price to pay.

Justice Alito Declares “Carbon Dioxide Is Not a Pollutant” in a Candid, Confused Speech (Slate.com, 02/13/17)
Mark Joseph Stern: Alito aligned himself with conservative judges like Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, who think agencies have been given too much power to legislate.... But then Alito went off the rails.... Alito’s comments here are straight out of the climate change denialist playbook—and were rejected in Massachusetts v. EPA, for good reason. ... There is no textual support for Alito’s assertion that the law was meant to be limited to “soot or smoke.” But what’s really odd about Alito’s comments on Saturday is that he seems to have forgotten key details of the case.... Those “unelected bureaucrats” at the EPA were refusing to enforce a law passed by the people’s “elected representatives.” And the judiciary stepped in to ensure that the bureaucrats followed the law.... embedded in his fulmination against climate science is a legitimately confused and contradictory legal stance that suggests that, for Alito, the only valid regulations are the ones he agrees with.

The Fate of Environmental Law in a Trump-Era Supreme Court: Given what we know now, those laws will almost inevitably be weakened in ways that are hard to predict (Scientific American, 02/08/17)
Guest blog By John Echeverria: Gorsuch has staked out positions on several crosscutting legal questions that have important implications for environmental law .... Critics of government regulation sometimes seek to apply the so-called nondelegation doctrine, which purportedly limits the power of Congress to make delegations of rule-making authority to administrative agencies. The Supreme Court has upheld nondelegation challenges to congressional enactments in only a handful of cases, both decided in the 1930’s, and the late Justice Scalia wrote an opinion for the modern Court rejecting a nondelegation challenge to the Clean Air Act. In a highly visible dissent filed in 2015, however, Judge Gorsuch offered a full –throated defense of the doctrine, suggesting he might try to lead an effort on the Supreme Court to breathe new life into the doctrine, an ominous prospect for modern environmental statutes that are commonly drafted with a broad brush. Gorsuch also has written opinions suggesting sympathy for the argument that courts should be reluctant to recognize that private environmental plaintiffs have “standing.”

LETTER: Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, would be a disaster for the environment (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 02/07/17)
Rosa Mendoza: In 1984, the U.S. Supreme court voted on the correct side of the law in the Chevron decision, which blocked judges from second-guessing rulings from respected entities such as the Environmental Protection Agency. Judge Gorsuch argued against this environment-friendly ruling, saying that the ruling overstepped boundaries. His opinion reflects a salient truth: He values big business over the environment.

It’s time to make Republicans pay for their supreme hypocrisy (Washington Post, 02/02/17)
E.J. Dionne Jr., Opinion writer: We are in for a festival of GOP hypocrisy in the debate over President Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Republicans will say that because he is decent and well-qualified, Democrats have no business blocking him. But it’s hard to find someone more decent or qualified than Garland, as many Republicans acknowledged. ... conservative judicial mavens have already made clear that outcomes-oriented jurisprudence is their thing now, even if they disguise it behind grandiloquent words such as “originalism” and “textualism.” Trump, after all, picked Gorsuch from a roster prepared for him by right-wing interest groups. Let this nomination also be the end of any talk of Trump as a pro-worker “populist.” Gorsuch is neither.... There comes a time when the only way to stand up against future abuses is to insist that there will be no reward for the abuses that have led us to this point.

Predicting How Neil Gorsuch Would Rule on Environmental Issues: If he’s ever confirmed by the U.S. Senate (Legal Planet: The Environmental Law & Policy Blog, 01/31/17)
Prof. Ann Carlson: Given his stated conservative judicial philosophy and his supposed commitment to “textualism,” though, it seems safe to be that he’ll be a reliable conservative vote and a foe of environmental protection most of the time.

EDITORIAL: Neil Gorsuch, the Nominee for a Stolen Seat (New York Times, 01/31/17)
"It’s been almost a year since Senate Republicans took an empty Supreme Court seat hostage, discarding a constitutional duty that both parties have honored throughout American history and hobbling an entire branch of government for partisan gain. President Trump had a great opportunity to repair some of that damage by nominating a moderate candidate for the vacancy, which was created when Justice Antonin Scalia died last February. Instead, he chose Neil Gorsuch, a very conservative judge from the federal Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit whose jurisprudence and writing style are often compared to those of Justice Scalia.... The seat Judge Gorsuch hopes to sit in should have been filled, months ago, by Merrick Garland .... He is even more conservative than Justice Scalia in at least one area — calling for an end to the deference courts traditionally show to administrative agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, that are charged with implementing complex and important federal laws. Given the events of recent days, senators should press Judge Gorsuch on how he would approach constitutional questions that have already arisen out of Mr. Trump’s actions as president"

Editorial: Sessions’ right-wing values sure to follow him as AG (Chicago Sun Times, 01/11/17)
"In response to questioning during his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday, Sessions .... avoided potential conflicts by soft-pedaled reality. In truth, every attorney sets priorities, informed by his or her own values, because there’s no way around it .... Even a big federal bureaucracy has a limit to its resources. A nominee might say “I’ll enforce the law” — they all do say that — but every attorney general is afforded huge latitude as to which laws to enforce aggressively. ... It matters, then, that Sessions holds unfortunate views on many of the big issues of the day. It matters that he has a retrograde public record on voting rights, climate change, same-sex marriage, the environment, immigration, incarceration, free speech and religious freedom. We are a nation of laws, but men and women enforce those laws. Or they do not."