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Judging the Environment

The following statement is from Glenn Sugameli, who founded in 2001 and still heads the environmental community’s Judging the Environment project and website on federal judicial nominations and related issues:

“We welcome President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan, whose record shows an essential understanding of the importance of upholding and enforcing laws that protect people, wildlife and the environment.

‘While she was dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan made environmental law a top priority. She helped found the Environmental Law Program, and, in one of her most prominent hires, recruited prominent environmental scholar Jody Freeman to lead the program. Kagan also started an Environmental Law and Policy Clinic where students provide vital assistance on cases and policy.

“It is critical that Justice Stevens’ successor be fair-minded and experienced and understand why environmental laws were written.

“Polluters have asked judges to invalidate and to rewrite vital safeguards in the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, and other laws that protect our health, safety, and environment. It is vital that the Supreme Court continue to reject these unjustifiable arguments and uphold laws that have ensured decades of progress in cleaning up our environment and protecting our families and communities.”

“For example, in the 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA case, four dissenting Justices would have prohibited state and citizen access to court to challenge the Bush EPA’s refusal to enforce Clean Air Act global warming provisions, while allowing polluters to file lawsuits against any safeguards that might cost them money.

“We look forward to the Senate’s deliberations on this important nomination as the Court is sharply and closely divided on the fate of basic environmental safeguards and citizens’ access to court. Respect for and understanding of environmental laws that protect all Americans are essential.”

“The next Justice will help determine the fate of basic environmental safeguards for decades to come.”