SCOTUS: Judge Amy Coney Barrett Puts Big Polluters Ahead of Communities and the Environment
Judge Barrett has ruled that the public doesn’t have standing to hold corporations accountable, sided with powerful special interests time and time again
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Accountable.US is drawing attention today to Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s record of sidelining the public in disputes about how private development impacts the environment, ahead of her Zoom meeting “hearing” with the Senate Judiciary Committee next week.
“Amy Coney Barrett’s decisions have put powerful, polluting corporations first and made it harder for the public to protect their resources, public lands and environment from private development,” said Kyle Herrig, president of government watchdog Accountable.US. “We cannot trust someone who sides with corporations 76% of the time to protect human health and the environment from irresponsible development.”
Here’s more on some of the rulings that reveal her views on the public’s right to defend their natural resources:
Amy Coney Barrett ruled in Protect Our Parks, Inc. v. Chicago Park District that the public does not have standing to sue to block development “In her ruling, Barrett determined that the plaintiffs had no standing to sue the Chicago Parks District, rejecting all three of their claims: that they had standing as taxpayers, that they would suffer injury from the center’s construction, and — notably — that the project would damage Jackson Park. “The plaintiffs can’t repackage an injury to the park as an injury to themselves,” she wrote in her opinion, explicitly citing a precedent claiming that damage to the environment is not sufficient to prove standing” [Grist 9/20/20].
Amy Coney Barrett backed a ruling in Orchard Hill Building Company v. United States Corps of Engineers that favored residential construction near land repeatedly determined to be in violation of water quality laws “She signed on to a majority opinion in 2018 reversing a lower-court decision saying 13 acres of Illinois wetlands were subject to protection under Clean Water Act from being developed by a home builder.” [Washington Post 9/28/20].
Here are some of the cases before the court in which a Supreme Court Justice Barrett could side with polluters and against the public:
The City of Baltimore filed a lawsuit seeking to hold fossil fuel companies liable for climate change impacts. “Baltimore Argued that Supreme Court Should Decline to Review Decision Affirming Remand of Climate Case to State Court. Baltimore filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the Court should deny oil and gas companies’ petition for writ of certiorari seeking review of the Fourth Circuit’s affirmance of a remand order in Baltimore’s climate change case. Baltimore’s brief said there were three principal reasons why the certiorari petition should be denied. First, Baltimore contended that a ‘purported circuit split’ on the issues of the scope of appellate review of remand orders was ‘insignificant at best.’ Second, Baltimore contended that these issues were ‘not likely to recur with any frequency.’ Third, Baltimore argued that the Fourth Circuit’s interpretation of the removal statute was ‘consistent with the statutory text and strict limitations Congress has historically placed on appellate review of remand orders.’” [Climate Case Chart, Accessed 10/8/20]
The Hopi Tribe and Wilderness Society have sued the Trump administration to block the reduction of the Grand Staircase Escalante and Bears Ears protected areas in Utah: “In December 2017, President Trump issued proclamations that would dramatically reduce the size of two national monuments designated by earlier presidents: Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears, both located in southern Utah. The President’s efforts were soon challenged in court by numerous Indian Tribes and by nonprofit organizations representing conservation, historic preservation, scientific, and tribal interests. These plaintiffs contend that the Antiquities Act of 1906 gives presidents the authority to establish new national monuments but not to abolish or reduce the size of existing monuments. After these cases were consolidated, the Trump administration filed motions to dismiss the cases in October 2018.” [theusconstitution.org, Accessed 10/9/20]
Conservationists asked the US District Court for DC to block Trump’s changes to Northeast Canyons And Seamounts National Monument: “President Trump overreached his authority and violated the Constitution when he opened a national marine monument to commercial fishing earlier this month, environmental advocacy groups argued in a new federal lawsuit. The Conservation Law Foundation, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council and a Maine-based naturalist today asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to block changes to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. Trump issued an executive order on June 5 eliminating commercial fishing restrictions in the monument, calling the prohibitions ‘deeply unfair to Maine lobstermen’” [EENews, 6/17/20]