Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Supreme Court is now a threat to climate change action

Supreme Court, February 25, 2016 Photo by Patrick Thibodeau

Progress on reducing CO2 emissions, already in the ditch thanks to President Trump, will be paved over as a result of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

This court will be nothing more than an adjunct of right wing special interest, and that means denial and obstruction on climate change-related legislation.

How might this court rule if lawmakers eventually adopt a carbon tax? Or impose restrictions on land use to preserve CO2 absorbing trees and plant life? How might this court rule on efforts to save the oceans? The court will likely favor short-term profit making over the survival of mankind.

Kavanaugh’s legal philosophy is reflected by The Federalist Society, which recommended him to the president. The Desmog Blog, in an exhaustive analysis on the Federalist Society’s climate change view, notes, in part, that this group “regularly hosted talks by individuals who oppose the mainstream consensus on man-made climate change.”

The originalist framework opposes progressive action. It can’t accept anything that upsets the constitution’s fundamentals, as they were imagined in the 1700s.

Recall that the Supreme Court, in 1918, struck down a law that sought to put curbs on child labor for children under the age of 14. Can you imagine? It should have been obvious that child labor was wrong, but not to the originalists way of thinking.

That’s the problem. Taking action against CO2 emission means coming to terms with the climate our children and grandchildren will inherit. But an originalist stance will likely view anti-climate change actions as a infringement of constitutional rights.

This view of the constitution will stymie progressives. Naomi Klein is right, unrestrained capitalism is the problem and originalists interpretations weigh in favor of unrestrained capitalism. The barriers to C02 emissions restraint will collapse with this court’s makeup. That’s what really won with Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Where can we go from here?

In the short-term, perhaps the Democrats can gain control of at least one chamber. But the Supreme Court promises, over the next few decades, to obstruct, defeat, delay and thwart anything that might try to tackle climate. Hope is shrinking. I hate to say it, but the people who believe in collapse may be right.

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