President Bush's Supreme Court Nomination Needs Careful Review

Senate must ensure that Judge John Roberts will not unfairly strike down environmental safeguards


Glenn Sugameli or Cat Lazaroff, 202-667-4500

The following is a statement by Earthjustice Executive Director Buck Parker regarding President Bush’s nomination of Judge John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court:

“Earthjustice is concerned that Judge Roberts may fail to uphold our key environmental safeguards as a Supreme Court justice. In a key environmental case (1), Judge Roberts questioned the constitutionality of Endangered Species Act safeguards. Roberts’s arguments advanced a distorted view of Congressional power that could threaten to undermine a wide swath of environmental protections, including the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

“Judge Roberts also displayed a flippant attitude towards preventing the extinction of what he called ‘a hapless toad that, for reasons of its own, lives its entire life in California.’ His language contrasts with the consistent recognition of the value of species reflected by every court to consider the issue, including decisions by conservative Republican-appointed judges that rejected similar claims (2). As the Bush Administration’s own Solicitor General has noted, no court has ever upheld a similar constitutional challenge to any federal wildlife statute (3).

“Industry groups have filed lawsuits claiming that a wide range of federal laws are unconstitutional, including key safeguards in the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and other statutes that protect the health, safety, and rights of workers and consumers. It is vital that the Supreme Court continue to reject, as it has in the past, these arguments that could threaten decades of progress in cleaning up our environment and protecting our families and communities.

“The Senate must fully and independently review this nomination, and determine whether as a Supreme Court justice, Judge Roberts would uphold the fundamental laws that protect our public health and environment.”

“Supreme Court justices decide whether to uphold or strike down environmental laws. The Senate has a duty to ensure that the next Justice will be committed to upholding these safeguards and protecting the rights of all Americans.

“The American people want this country to continue moving forward. We don’t want to roll back the progress we have made in protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the wild places and endangered species that are our children’s natural heritage. The public has the right to insist that the highest court in our country be fair, balanced, and independent from powerful special interests.

“The Senate’s upcoming hearings and vote will affect the everyday lives of all Americans for generations to come. It is essential that all Senators avoid a rush to judgment, and recognize their responsibility to conduct a comprehensive, in-depth review of the nominee’s record and views before confirming him to a lifetime seat on the nation’s highest court.”

1: Rancho Viejo, LLC v. Norton, 334 F.3d 1158, 1160 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (Roberts, J. dissenting) (denying rehearing en banc).

2: See Gibbs v. Babbitt, 214 F.3d 483 (4th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 1145 (2001); National Ass’n of Home Builders (NAHB) v. Babbitt, 130 F.3d 1041 (D.C. Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 524 U.S. 937 (1998).

3: U.S. Brief

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