by Max Breitbarth
The Supreme Court lost its longest-tenured justice this February as Antonin Scalia, one of the most conservative justices in recent memory and a jurist best known for his engaging originalist decisions and dissents, passed away at the age of 79 at a West Texas Ranch. His passing may have huge ramifications for President Obama’s proposed Clean Power Plan, writes Eric Wolff in a February 2016 Politico article.
Wolff notes that with Scalia’s death, the Supreme Court is fairly divided between conservative and liberal judges. In the context of energy policy and the United States response to climate change, this is fairly consequential. With a split court, decisions made by lower courts typically hold as final ruling, and the D.C. Circuit Court already upheld Obama’s proposed Clean Power Plan in a contentious yet decisive 5-4 majority. Barring a surprising change in prior opinions expressed by the court, Wolff anticipates a SCOTUS split, and a huge step forward in the fight against climate change.
Wolff also analyzes the impacts on impending water cases, adding that it will help expand federal authority on land use, and analyzes possible Scalia successors and their history on involvement with environmental issues. Whoever his successor is, it is apparent that Obama’s imminent nomination will have a large impact on the strength of impending energy policy, and that a liberal successor will change the legacy of the President’s clean energy proposals from possibilities to realities.
Wolff, Eric. “Divided court could help Obama’s energy and environment agenda.” Politico. 16 Feb 2016. Web.