Are Nuisance Lawsuits to Address Climate Change Justiciable in the Federal Courts? Global Warming at the Supreme Court

Engage, Volume 12, Issue 1

April 18, 2011

Megan L. Brown

This article examines American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut, a U.S. Supreme Court case whose oral arguments are scheduled for April 19, 2011, relating to the standing of plaintiffs to challenge the greenhouse gas emissions of various companies. In an effort to generate discussion on this important issue, we have provided along with this article links to briefs in support of both the respondents and the petitioners in the case. As always, The Federalist Society welcomes your responses to these materials. To join the debate, you can e-mail us at info@fed-soc.org.

Are Nuisance Lawsuits to Address Climate Change Justiciable in the Federal Courts? Global Warming at the Supreme CourtThis spring, the Supreme Court will hear and decide American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut (“AEP”), a nationally important case concerning global warming and the appropriate judicial response thereto. At its core, this and other cases like it test the limits of federal courts’ authority to enact sweeping changes to the nation’s environmental, industrial, and economic policy. Since Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court’s last foray into climate change, federal courts—including two federal appeals courts—have been wrestling with lawsuits that would assign federal judges a pivotal role in setting national climate change policy. But, as each district court to have confronted these cases has concluded, these cases present a task for which the federal courts are institutionally and constitutionally ill-suited. In granting certiorari, the Court has signaled its intent to clarify the proper role of federal courts in addressing global climate change.

Related Links

Brief for the Petitioners (American Electric Power Co. et al.)
Brief for Respondents Connecticut, New York, California, Iowa, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the City of New York
Amicus Brief of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in support of petitioners
Brief for the Respondents Open Space Institute, Inc., Open Space Conservancy, Inc., and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

Are Nuisance Lawsuits to Address Climate Change Justiciable in the Federal Courts? Global Warming at the Supreme Court