AEP v. Connecticut and the Future of the Political Question Doctrine

Yale Law Journal Online, Vol. 121, p. 127, 2011

Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-07

8 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2012  

James May

Widener University Delaware Law School

Date Written: September 13, 2011

Abstract

Whether and how to apply the political question doctrine were among the issues for which the Supreme Court granted certiorari in American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut (AEP).1 This doctrine holds that federal courts should not resolve certain kinds of claims better left to other branches. Here, the question was whether the doctrine barred review of plaintiffs’ federal common law claims for climate change. The Court, however, declined to engage the issue. Nonetheless, this Essay argues that the doctrine is still very relevant in the context of common law causes of action for climate change, and does so in three parts. Part I briefly explains the doctrine’s historical backdrop, observing the limited extent to which it has been applied. Part II explains the role that the doctrine played in AEP and that the Court declined to address the issue directly. Part III discusses the implications that AEP may have on the doctrine going forward.

Keywords: political question doctrine, constitutional law, environmental law

JEL Classification: K32

Suggested Citation

May, James, AEP v. Connecticut and the Future of the Political Question Doctrine (September 13, 2011). Yale Law Journal Online, Vol. 121, p. 127, 2011; Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2008443

James May (Contact Author)

Widener University Delaware Law School ( email )

4601 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE 19803-0406
United States

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