The Supreme Court of the United States recently handed down a ruling related to Climate Change in American Electric Power v. Connecticut et al. A Public Nuisance claim was brought against the company because of the greenhouse gases it emitted. The court decided that this does not apply and that it is the power of the executive branch and the EPA to deal with this issue
The most important thing to notice in this case is the footnote: ‘The Court, we caution, endorses no particular view of the complicated issues related to carbon dioxide emissions and climate change.’ This shows a change in the court’s dynamic. In 2007 the court ruled that the EPA could regulate green house gases to combat global warming.
Supreme Court justices vote based on a number of factors. First and foremost, they vote for what they believe, but they are restrained in what exactly they do. For an opinion to become precedent, at least 5 justices need to sign on to it. Since all justices believe different things, the opinion needs to be crafted in a way that they can all support. In this case, taking a neutral stance on climate change was needed to gain a majority support. This is significant, and just the beginning.