Civil Litigation as a Tool for Regulating Climate Change: An Introduction

13 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2012

See all articles by James May

James May

Widener University Delaware Law School

Date Written: September 7, 2012


This essay serves as an introduction to a special issue of the Valparaiso Law Review, dedicated to civil litigation of causes of action to address climate change. Every now and again there is a case that subjects the U.S. Supreme Court to a kind of stress-test. A case that reveals the Court’s willingness to engage tough social issues, or instead kick the can to coordinate branches of government, or to the states. On occasion, an environmental case will push the Court mightily over constitutional issues of standing, political question doctrine, separation of powers, and federalism. The recently decided American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut (“AEP”), for example, is just such a case. Accordingly, this Essay contains a summary of AEP and discusses its implications. It concludes that AEP has had a profound impact on GHG litigation and policymaking, and will be the case of threshold reference on issues of displacement, constitutional and prudential standing, the political question doctrine, and the role of common and statutory law in addressing GHG emissions.

Keywords: climate change, environmental law, civil litigation, American Electric Power Co v. Connecticut

JEL Classification: K32

Suggested Citation

May, James, Civil Litigation as a Tool for Regulating Climate Change: An Introduction (September 7, 2012). Valparaiso University Law Review, Vol. 46, No. 2, p. 357, 2012; Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-29. Available at SSRN:

James May (Contact Author)

Widener University Delaware Law School ( email )

4601 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE 19803-0406
United States

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