Who’s Number One?

James E. Salzman

Duke University School of Law

J. B. Ruhl

Vanderbilt University - Law School

November 2, 2009

Environmental Forum, Vol. 26, No. 6, p. 36, November-December 2009
FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 409

What do environmental lawyers consider the most significant environmental cases? In 2001, Jim Salzman conducted a survey of the envlawprofs listserv for the "Most Excellent" environmental law cases in the field, tabulating the top cases for law profs and for practicing attorneys. Given the significant decisions over the eight years, we thought it would be useful to conduct the survey again, this time using a dedicated website and surveying both the envlawprofs listserv and members of the ABA's Section on Environment, Energy and Resources. We enjoyed a high level of participation, with over 440 responses from across the nation, from academics and practitioners alike. Among the most interesting findings are: (1) not surprisingly, Chevron remains firmly in the Top Three cases; (2) more surprisingly, the relatively young Massachusetts v. EPA has vaulted to the top as the most significant case in the field; (3) most surprisingly, Rapanos scored in the Top Three in most categories of respondents and in the top four for almost all the categories; (4) TVA v. Hill , while still a favorite among academics, has faded from prominence among practitioners; and (5) some of the classic environmental law cases that scored high on the 2001 survey, such as Overton Park and Ethyl Corp., have fallen off the cliff. Our article discusses the findings in more detail and our musing explanations for the surprise results.

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Date posted: November 2, 2009 ; Last revised: December 28, 2014

Suggested Citation

Salzman, James E. and Ruhl, J. B., Who’s Number One? (November 2, 2009). Environmental Forum, Vol. 26, No. 6, p. 36, November-December 2009; FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 409. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1498640

Contact Information

James E. Salzman (Contact Author)
Duke University School of Law ( email )
P.O. Box 90360
Durham, NC 27708
United States
J. B. Ruhl
Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )
131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
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