Is Justice Neil Gorsuch Bad News for the Environment? #NowWhat

Neil Gorsuch isn't great for the environment.

On Monday, April 10, Neil Gorsuch became America’a 113th justice of the Supreme Court.

Gorsuch has concerned democrats and progressives since Trump first uttered the judge’s name.

Emotions concerning Gorsuch range from anger—people are still upset that Merrick Garland was snubbed—to worry over the newly invoked “nuclear option.”

News outlets have reported Gorsuch’s conservative leanings, but we’ve yet to hear how his nomination could affect the environment.

Gorsuch’s Track Record

To see the future, we have to look at the past. And according to William J. Snape, III, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity, Gorsuch’s past judicial record is telling.

Gorsuch’s previous decisions demonstrate a pro-corporate, anti-government ideology that could influence cases involving environmental protections, climate change, and more. To illustrate this, Snape outlines some of Gorsuch’s decisions that hurt environmental protections.

“In New Mexico Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance v. U.S. Forest Service (2013), he went out of his way to dissent from a decision allowing the Center and other groups to intervene in a case over the management of national forests,” Snape says.

“His position, rejected by the majority, would have excluded the public from participation in many cases affecting public lands and natural resources.”

Jon Fox, senior democracy campaigner at Friends of the Earth, echoes Snape’s sentiment. Fox highlights Gorsuch’s opposition to the Chevron doctrine.

The doctrine, derived from Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., requires courts to defer to federal agency experts when crafting regulations.

“It is one of the underpinnings of modern environmental protection, which often calls for the type of deep scientific expertise that courts frequently lack and administrative agencies often possess,” Fox explains.

“Americans who love clean air, clean water and healthy wildlife deserve better,” Snape adds.

Fight back

Sure, things don’t appear great right now, but we can still reverse climate change.

“Resistance means a lot of things,” Snape says.

“It certainly includes protecting our public health and special places from greed and short-sightedness. An independent judiciary is central to all of this, which is why who this President picks for appellate and district court judges are also very important.”

Fox echoes Snape’s call to resistance and vigilant public action.

“As the Trump administration ignores science, environmental activists and elected officials will face pressure as we push them to take the threat of climate change seriously,” Fox says.

If we want the environment to thrive, we have to take action. It’s that simple. Show up at town halls. Contact elected officials, because, says Fox, “those who do nothing will be held accountable.”

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Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy!, a freelance writing and editing company, and home funeral hub. Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.