Supreme Court and Climate Rules

BBC – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35538350

Atlantic – http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/02/the-supreme-courts-devastating-decision-on-climate/462108/

NY Times – http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/10/us/politics/supreme-court-blocks-obama-epa-coal-emissions-regulations.html

The Supreme Court dealt a huge blow to Obama this week – they have halted the implementation of the Clean Power Plan (new EPA regulations) until a court case on these rules is heard at Circuit Court level. This would be a great case-study example as it could be used for lots of different topics.

Firstly, this great when writing about the power of the President or the power of the Supreme Court. This does make Obama look somewhat weakened as he approaches the end of his presidency, especially seeing as this was not a law he passed through Congress but a plan for his federal bureaucracy to implement (also good, therefore, for the federal bureaucracy). What this means is he has tried to exercise power in a system plagued by gridlock, and the Supreme Court have shot him down – if not lame duck, certainly he appears weak.

It also shows a good example of checks and balances at work – the Supreme Court checking the work of the President to avoid the tyranny of one man (although the democratic nature of an unelected judiciary to strike down the directly-elected President could also be questioned!).

For the Supreme Court topic, it is great for ideology as all the conservative judges voted for this with the four liberals voting against – yet another example of the importance of ideology on the Court. This is particularly important in this case as it involves the President – it doesn’t get too much more overtly political than that!

This quote from the NY Times was notable for both of the points made above:

“The 5-to-4 vote, with the court’s four liberal members dissenting, was unprecedented — the Supreme Court had never before granted a request to halt a regulation before review by a federal appeals court.”

Finally, it could be useful for the Constitution sub-topic of federalism as the case that is being heard by the Circuit Court has actually been brought by 29 States. This shows the sovereignty and power of the individual states to try and make their own laws – an important example of federalism at work (and while the word ‘federalism’ does not appear in the Constitution, it is a key principle running through it). Also notable is that most of the states are Republican led – so a good link their to party politics and the importance of parties today, as well as regional differences across America.

It also has clear links to pressure groups as many coal unions, energy companies and corporate interests have also joined the case – a nice example of such groups using the Supreme Court to influence policy (i.e. one way PGs can use the Court is to bring a case to them – 15 marker).

 

All said, this hasn’t stopped the plans, just halted it for the time being…

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