Neil Gorsuch on Environment



Congress should write EPA rules, not Executive Branch

Justice Neil Gorsuch has warned against regulatory overreach by the executive branch, but he has also in other instances adopted a broad reading of federal law that has encouraged proponents of stricter climate rules. In his dissent in the 2019 nondelegation case Gundy v. United States, Gorsuch argued that the framers of the Constitution had given the power to write rules to "Congress alone" (Greenwire, June 20, 2019).

Justice Kagan led the majority opinion in 2019's Gundy, rejecting arguments that Congress had handed too much power to the executive branch. The case narrowly avoided a revival of the long-dormant nondelegation doctrine but provided justices a platform for revisiting the administrative law issue.

But environmental lawyers also saw Gorsuch's opinion in last year's landmark civil rights case, Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga., as a sign that Gorsuch could take broad reading of the Clean Air Act authority to regulate greenhouse gases (Climatewire, June 18, 2020).

Source: GreenWire E&E News on 2021 EPA & climate SCOTUS cases , Nov 3, 2021

Mother ran EPA; accused of being soft on polluters

Gorsuch does not have a record of strident comments that would fuel a confirmation fight. However, he knows firsthand the rough side of political battles. His mother, Anne Gorsuch Burford, was a conservative Colorado state legislator and a states' rights advocate when President Reagan chose her in 1981 to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. She was soon caught up in battles with environmentalists and Democrats on Capitol Hill for allegedly going soft on polluters. She was held in contempt of Congress in 1983 for refusing to turn over documents.

She said she had followed the legal advice of the Justice Department. Nonetheless, she was forced to resign in 1983 because the White House saw her as a political distraction. She returned to Colorado and died in 2004.

Source: Los Angeles Times on SCOTUS confirmation hearings , Jan 24, 2017

Other Justices on Environment: Neil Gorsuch on other issues:
Samuel Alito(since 2006)
Amy Coney Barrett(since 2020)
Stephen Breyer(since 1994)
Neil Gorsuch(since 2017)
Ketanji Brown Jackson(nominated 2022)
Elena Kagan(since 2010)
Brett Kavanaugh(since 2018)
John Roberts(since 2005)
Sonia Sotomayor(since 2009)
Clarence Thomas(since 1991)

Former Justices:
Merrick Garland(nominated 2016)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg(1993-2020)
Anthony Kennedy(1988-2018)
Antonin Scalia(1986-2016)
John Paul Stevens(1975-2010)
David Souter(1990-2009)
Sandra Day O'Connor(1981-2006)
William Rehnquist(1975-2005)

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Page last updated: Mar 21, 2022