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John Roberts on Energy & Oil

Supreme Court Justice (nominated by Pres. George W. Bush 2005)


Public committees need not disclose documents

Roberts joined the court’s decision in NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL v. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY:

This appeal presented the question whether the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) applied to a committee the Department of Energy formed to provide it with advice. The Committee consisted of federal employees and contractors who manage and operate Department-owned laboratories. The district court held that FACA applied to the committee and that the Department had failed to comply with FACA’s requirements to disclose committee documents.

On Nov. 24, 2003, after the case had been argued, the President signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, stating that “Department of Energy Project Review Groups are not subject to FACA.” The new legislation had the effect of exempting Department of Energy committees, as the NRDC concedes.

We therefore remand the case to the district court for the purpose of altering its judgment.

Source: FindLaw case 02-5387, US Court of Appeals, DC Circuit , Jan 2, 2004

Ok to keep Cheney’s energy task force secret

Judge Roberts was one of the dissenters in the court’s 5-3 denial of a petition filed by the Bush Administration in its continuing efforts to avoid releasing records pertaining to Vice President Cheney’s energy task force. This ruling came in litigation brought by Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club charging that the Vice President’s task force had violated federal law by not making its records public. The court’s ruling marked “the fourth time a judicial panel has rebuffed efforts to keep the information from the public.” At the Administration’s urging, the Supreme Court has agreed to review the case; a decision is expected by the end of June 2004.
Source: People for the American Way: Independent Judiciary report , Sep 12, 2003

Clean Air Act displaced federal common law on CO2 emissions.

Justice Roberts joined the Court's decision on AMERICAN ELECTRIC v. CONNECTICUT on Jun 20, 2011:

Joined by the courts into one suit, eight states, New York City, and three nonprofit land trusts filed actions against five major electric power companies claiming their carbon dioxide discharges, by contributing to global warming, have interfered with public rights in violation of federal common law, or of state tort law.

HELD: Delivered by GINSBURG, joined by ROBERTS, SCALIA, KENNEDY, BREYER & KAGAN

Since four members of the Court hold that at least some of the plaintiffs have standing, though four others would find there is not standing, the Court will address the merits. Though a federal common law regarding air pollution has developed where once there was none, the passage by Congress of the Clean Air Act and the agreement of the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions have occupied this field of law and have displaced the federal common law. The fact that the EPA has not yet issued rules does not allow the Court to issue decisions under the federal common law that are binding until the EPA does act, since Congress has shown its intent to have the EPA make these decisions. The process the Clean Air Act sets out is that the EPA, using its expertise, shall issue in the first instance regulations. Parties dissatisfied with those regulations may seek review of the EPA's actions in the US Court of Appeals. The possibility of state law claims for pollution will depend upon the preemptive effect of the Clean Air Act. As the preemption issue was not briefed for this Court, the state law claims are remanded for further consideration by the lower courts.

CONCURRED: ALITO concurs; joined by THOMAS

Assuming for the purpose of this decision that this Court in Massachusetts v. EPA interpreted the Clean Air Act correctly, this Court's analysis of the displacement of federal common law by Congressional enactment is also correct.

Sotomayor recused herself.
Source: Supreme Court case 11-AE-CT argued on Apr 19, 2011

Other Justices on Energy & Oil: John Roberts on other issues:
Samuel Alito
Stephen Breyer
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Elena Kagan
Anthony Kennedy
John Roberts
Antonin Scalia
Sonia Sotomayor
Clarence Thomas

Former Justices:
David Souter
Sandra Day O'Connor
William Rehnquist
John Paul Stevens

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Page last updated: Jul 11, 2013