Judicial Straw in the Wind

EPA and environmental activists won an important victory in the Supreme Court yesterday, when the Court upheld by a 6-2 margin the agency’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule as a legitimate means of implementing a congressional mandate that states be protected from air pollution generated by their neighbors.

As Lyle Denniston noted at SCOTUSBlog, the two dissenting Justices–Scalia and Thomas–pretty much confined themselves to generalized complaints about Big Government and an “unelected bureaucracy operating under vague statutory standards.”

It would go too far to claim that this decision justifies optimism about the big case everyone is anticipating down the road involving EPA climate change regulations. But it does indicate that conservative whinging about “executive tyranny” have a limited constituency on the Court so long as congressional intent is reasonably clear.

Meanwhile, SCOTUS aficionados will enjoy Justice Ginsburg’s use, in the majority opinion, of this line from the King James version of the Gospel According to John:

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth.

Tell me about it.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.