The Supreme Court and the Environment: The Reluctant Protector

Michael Allan Wolf, THE SUPREME COURT AND THE ENVIRONMENT: THE RELUCTANT PROTECTOR, CQ Press/Sage, 2012

11 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2011  

Michael Allan Wolf

University of Florida - Fredric G. Levin College of Law

Date Written: December 2, 2011

Abstract

This document contains the Introduction and Contents for The Supreme Court and the Environment: The Reluctant Protector (CQ Press/Sage 2012). When one views the body of modern environmental law — the decisions and the other key documents — the picture that emerges is not one of Supreme Court dominance. In this legal drama, the justices have most often played supporting roles. While we can find the occasional, memorable soliloquy in a Supreme Court majority, concurring, or dissenting opinion, the leading men and women are more likely found in Congress, administrative agencies, state and local legislatures, nongovernmental organizations, private industry, and state and lower federal courts.

What one learns from studying the Supreme Court’s environmental law output is that the justices for the most part seem more concerned about more general issues of deference to administrative agencies, the rules of statutory interpretation, the role of legislative history, the requisites for standing, and the nature of the Takings Clause than the narrow issues of entitlement to a clean environment, the notion of an environmental ethic that underlies written statutes and regulations, and concerns about ecological diversity and other environmental values. When we widen the lens, however, and focus on the other documents that make up essential parts of the story of the Supreme Court and the environment — complaints by litigants, briefs by parties and by friends of the court, oral argument transcripts, the occasional stirring dissent, lower court decisions, presidential signing statements and press conference transcripts, media reports and editorials, and legislative responses to high court decisions — we discover what is often missing in the body of Supreme Court decisions.

Keywords: environmental law, land use planning, constitutional history, supreme court, environmental history, legal history

JEL Classification: K32, K10

Suggested Citation

Wolf, Michael Allan, The Supreme Court and the Environment: The Reluctant Protector (December 2, 2011). Michael Allan Wolf, THE SUPREME COURT AND THE ENVIRONMENT: THE RELUCTANT PROTECTOR, CQ Press/Sage, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1967610

Michael Allan Wolf (Contact Author)

University of Florida - Fredric G. Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States
352-273-0934 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.ufl.edu/faculty/wolf/

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