When the U.S. Supreme Court decides that a lower court decision should be affirmed in part and reversed in part, the justices have decided to duck the issue before the Court.
The latest example was handed down today in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA. In plain english, the issue before the Court was whether it was permissible for the federal EPA to determine that its motor-vehicle greenhouse gas regulations automatically triggered the regulation of greenhouse gases emitted by stationary sources which would include, in EPA’s view, office buildings, shopping malls and restaurants which had never before been regulated by EPA. Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Scalia concluded that the answer was a resounding …No! But incredibly, in his next breath, Justice Scalia concluded that it was nevertheless permissible for EPA to regulate greenhouse gases from the ‘anyway sources,’ that is, the large stationary sources that were regulated ‘anyway’ based on their emissions of more conventional pollutants (e.g. particulate matter from coal-fired power plants). This contradictory conclusion defies logic and commonsense and is generally devoid of coherent legal analysis. A similar affirmed/reversed-in-part decision was written for the majority by Justice Roberts in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
This commentator recently posted a piece on the plight of coal-fired power plants subject to unreasonable environmental regulation. See In the Name of Environmental Protection, April 7, 2014. The Supreme Court’s decision today is not good news for consumers of electricity generated by coal-fired power plants.
Commonsense tells me that the Supreme Court is not a place for the American people to look for protection against an overreaching executive department of the administration of the 44th President of the United States of America. As Justice Roberts said, elections have consequences. Hopefully the next election will begin the long and difficult road back to a balanced and commonsense government envisioned by the constitution of the United States of America.
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