Friday, July 22, 2005

Judge Roberts' Environmental Record

First, let me say that it's been heartening to see environmental issues coming up frequently in discussions of Judge John Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court. While the Supreme Court has a lot of power to determine the fate of environmental regulations, I wasn't sure that these issues would receive the prominent attention they're getting in the mainstream media and the political blogosphere.

ENN has published an overview of Roberts' published statements and positions on environmental claims, and I tend to agree with the environmental lawyers quoted that he has a troubling history in this area. While this article quotes various cases Roberts was involved in as both judge and attorney, I don't find any of those particular opinions as worrisome as his acceptance of the broader notion that citizens must demonstrate "injury-in-fact" in order to bring suits on environmental protection (a position espoused by every progressives' least favorite SCOTUS member, Antonin Scalia). This is a direct attack on the concept of the commons, and represents part of a worrisome trend to, well, privatize everything. Furthermore, it's a direct slap in the face of sustainability, as proponents of that concept (yours truly included) argue for maintaining resources for future generations -- under the concept of injury held by Roberts, sustainability is invalidated as a cause for legal action. While Roberts is doing a hell of a job on his charm offensive through Capitol Hill, I hope Senators are taking note of such positions and considering their ramifications on a whole host of issues. It's hard to believe, given the record, that Judge Roberts wouldn't support further attempts to privatize every element of our society (except, of course, women's bodies...).

Of course, I'm not a lawyer or legal scholar, so feel free to enlighten me...

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