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    This page contains Supreme Court rulings -- with summaries of the majority and minority conclusions.

11-AE-CT on Apr 19, 2011

Decided Jun 20, 2011
Case Ruling: AMERICAN ELECTRIC v. CONNECTICUT
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.


    Participating counts on VoteMatch question 18. Question 18: Prioritize green energy Scores: -2=Strongly oppose; -1=Oppose; 0=neutral; 1=Support; 2=Strongly support.
  • Topic: Energy & Oil
  • Headline: Clean Air Act displaced federal common law on CO2 emissions (Score: 2)
  • Headline 2: Federal statutes displace federal common law on CO2 (Score: 1)

    Participating counts on AmericansElect question 2.
  • Headline: Clean Air Act displaced federal common law on CO2 emissions (Answer: A)
  • Headline 2: Federal statutes displace federal common law on CO2 (Answer: C)
  • AmericansElect Quiz Question 2 on Energy:

When you think about America’s energy needs, which of the following solutions comes closest to your opinion?
  • A: Strong investment in renewable energy like wind and solar
  • B: More drilling than investment in renewables (mix of both solutions)
  • C: More investment in renewable than drilling (mix of both solutions)
  • D: Strong focus on offshore drilling and allowing drilling in federal lands including wildlife reserves
  • E: Unsure


  • Key for participation codes:
  • Sponsorships: p=sponsored; o=co-sponsored; s=signed
  • Memberships: c=chair; m=member; e=endorsed; f=profiled; s=scored
  • Resolutions: i=introduced; w=wrote; a=adopted
  • Cases: w=wrote; j=joined; d=dissented; c=concurred
  • Surveys: '+' supports; '-' opposes.



    Democrats participating in 11-AE-CT

    Stephen Breyer j1US Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
    Ruth Bader Ginsburg w1US Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
    Elena Kagan j1US Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 



    Republicans participating in 11-AE-CT

    Samuel Alito w2cUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
    Anthony Kennedy j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
    John Roberts j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
    Antonin Scalia j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
    Clarence Thomas j2cUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 



    Independents participating in 11-AE-CT



    Total recorded by OnTheIssues:

    Democrats: 3
    Republicans: 5
    Independents: 0


















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