Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls …

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued yet another ruling that is devastating, to say the least.  The news stories reported that this is a “serious blow to Biden’s climate agenda.”  NO, my friends, this is a serious blow to the lives of every single person around the globe, today and forever.  No, that is not hyperbole … that is FACT.  I am left spluttering … not speechless, but so filled with words that I cannot corral them into a coherent post just yet.  Fortunately, Robert Reich has no such problem …

The beginning of the end of regulation

The radical Supreme Court is giving the big business backers of the GOP exactly what they paid for

Robert Reich

June 30

Today the Supreme Court – again, with the 6 Republican appointees on one side and the 3 Democratic appointees on the other — limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants. This ruling deals a major blow to America’s (and the world’s) efforts to address climate change. Also — as with its decision reversing Roe v. Wade — today’s ruling has far larger implications than the EPA and the environment.

West Virginia v. EPA is the latest battle pitting America’s big businesses (in this case Big Oil) against the needs of average Americans. In this Supreme Court – containing three Trump appointees, two George W. Bush appointees, and one George H.W. Bush appointee – big business is winning big time. The financial backers of the Republican Party are getting exactly what they paid for.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts admitted that “capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day.’” But then came the kicker: “But it is not plausible,” he wrote, “that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme.”

Not plausible? Congress enacted the Environmental Protection Act in 1970. As with all laws, Congress left it to an administrative agency – in this case, the EPA – to decide how that Act was to be implemented and applied. That’s what regulations do: They implement and apply laws.

For the Supreme Court to give itself the authority to say whether Congress intended to delegate this much regulatory authority to the EPA is a truly radical act – more radical than any Supreme Court in modern history. If Congress has been unhappy with decades of EPA regulation, Congress surely has had the power to pull that authority back. But it has not.

As Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the dissenters, countered: “The Court appoints itself — instead of Congress or the expert agency — the decision maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.”

The implications of the ruling extend to all administrative agencies in the federal government – to the Securities and Exchange Commission implementing the Securities Acts of 1933 and 1934, to the Federal Trade Commission applying the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914, to the Department of Labor implementing the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and so on, across the entire range of government – and the entire range of regulations designed to protect consumers, investors, workers, and the environment. (This same Supreme Court has ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was not authorized to impose a moratorium on evictions and that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was powerless to tell large employers  to have their workers be vaccinated or undergo frequent testing.)

In passing laws to protect the public, Congress cannot possibly foresee all ways in which those laws might be implemented and all circumstances in which the public might need the protections such laws accord. Starting today, though, all federal regulations will be under a cloud of uncertainty – and potential litigation.

A final implication of today’s ruling is that the filibuster has to go. If the Supreme Court is going to require that Congress be more active and specific in protecting the environment or anything else, such a goal is implausible when 60 senators are necessary to enact it. Senate Democrats now have it in their power to abolish the filibuster. Today’s case should convince them they must.

60 thoughts on “Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls …

  1. I can recall our own Alistar Cooke’s beloved ‘Letter From America’ and one essay extolling the Supreme Court and how presidents thinking they had put in their folk, found these appointees were now more concerned about the US Constitution than the politics the president had hoped they would look kindly on…That was broadcast in 1977.
    Now you have America’s own version of Iran or Afghanistan’s religious elites…. Some irony yeah?

    Liked by 2 people

    • OH!!! I remember Alistair Cooke! And yes … back in the day, the Court was truly apolitical, concerned only with interpreting the Constitution and upholding its values. Yeah … some irony. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Unfortunately, I think that the same evil has penetrated the Court as has penetrated our Congress: $$$$$$. I’ll probably be sharing a thoughtful piece tomorrow by Robert Hubbell assessing and suggesting a means to return the Court to an apolitical branch, but currently, there are too many conflicts of (financial) interest within the judiciary branch. I doubt any of them have read much history … their interests seem to lie elsewhere.

          Liked by 1 person

            • Hmmmm … oddly, I wasn’t aware of Bugliosi’s book, though I do well remember the Bush v Gore controversy and I still think they called it wrong. Sigh … I think there have been a number of “while we were sleeping” moments, moments that if we had been awake, or ‘woke’ as they call it today, we might have saved this nation from itself. Maybe.

              Liked by 1 person

                • Sometimes things that seem black & white, cut & dried, clear as day to me, are not so to others. I see a certain person as a traitor, for example, while others hail him as a hero. So … what would be considered, in my view, as saving the world, might be seen as destroying it in someone else’s view. Confused yet? I am!

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • That’s part of The Human Divide Jill.
                    We set folk up in a role that fits in with our views and the more one side supports / castigates the more we stick with our choice; unless something tectonic happens in our personal views.
                    The danger lies in the potential forces built up when the views start to push against each other.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • I’ll sashay over there some time today Jill.
                      Been a buzzy freaky week:
                      1. ‘Hatch’ is bugging me.
                      2. Chores keep popping up.
                      3. Annnd there’s The Amazing! The Astounding! The Incredible.! You’ll not believe your sense!!!…I give you The Magnificent Mister Denial!!!….Boris Johnson…..
                      Ooops, he’s tripped and fallen on his butt…..Oh well that’s show-biz.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • No worries, Roger … I fully understand … too many things pulling us in too many directions! Speaking of which … thanks for the reminder about ‘Hatch’!!! I have an idea, but haven’t put pen to paper, er, fingers to keyboard yet and I had forgotten about it!

                      Oh yep, I heard about ol’ Boris’ resignation and it’s part of my ‘snarky snippets’ post for this morning. But y’know … he’s still got more je ne sais quoi than our own former guy. At least yours knew it was time to go … ours is like a bag of nasty trash that just won’t begone! Them’s the breaks, eh?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Ironically Jill, he used those very words in his resignation speech and promptly brought down a firestorm, not for the words but the sentiments, like it was all an accident or bad luck or something.
                      Here’s an account straight from the UK over the Johnson’s Saga: (the one I posted up for Jeff):
                      The Johnson saga ran like a Shakespearean tragedy or Tennessee Williams play; take your pick.
                      There was one scandal too many. In this case appointing a known sexual predator to a position of authority, then either denying or ‘forgetting’ he knew of the man’s record. This was another case of Johnson not caring for rules and regulations when they applied to him or those he appointed. What added fuel was that government minsters were sent out to make public statements defending him when they had been given false information. This started a landslide of resignations from the UK ministerial ranks (UK governments are complex things either like jigsaws, Lego buildings or a house of cards depending on the situation). Despite a number of previous indicators by which a PM should have packed up weeks ago, Johnson clung on, claiming he had a mandate (actually he didn’t; The Conservative Party did- big difference). Eventually with no talent left to call on to staff the government and folk telling him he should go, he was crow-barred out. Even then he did not go at once but is arguably staying on until a new leader is found (another contentious step).
                      Commentators here have actually been likening Johnson’s actions to Trump’s in so far as denying the obvious. By good fortune Johnson’s support base in the public is not as proportionally widespread nor is its ranks heavy with hysterical conspiracy junkies. His demise was more like a very British version of the film ‘Downfall’.
                      Thus Jeff, he did not go for the good of the nation, he had to go because he could not govern as a PM. Johnson’s integrity and sense of duty are far outweighed by his sense of self-importance and eye for the money. He will retire form the front of UK politics, maybe plan a comeback or equally possible write his account of things, find himself a cosey column or two in newspapers and various other ways to make money by staying in the public view, which will be very irritating for a large portion of the UK (Actually in 2019 on the mainland, England, Scotland and Wales less folk voted the Conservatives than the other parties combined).
                      From here on in the future is uncertain though, once more in a British way.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Yeah … heh heh … I listened to a clip of his speech and that’s why I chose those particular words. I thought he was rather … nonchalant about the whole thing, given the circumstances … it puzzled me.

                      Thanks for filling in some of the blanks on Johnson’s resignation! I had only a skeleton picture, and was thinking that at least he had more of a conscience than Trump … but perhaps not, eh? I hate that you guys are going through some of what we are … I hope that yours is better resolved than ours is likely to be. Sigh. Hugs to you and all my UK friends tonight.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Johnson does that. It’s as if he treats the whole thing as a game, and a source of conversation at a dinner party next week.

                      Don’t worry about us (yet). We are going through the usual umpteen contenders for the post of leader and the political journalists, commentators and analysis will have splendid fun over the weeks ahead; the betting industry will of course be there; the FaceBook community will go into frenetic overdrive and meanwhile a lot of UK folk will be getting on with their lives and their own personal pressing concerns.
                      Thus far, it’s all very british.
                      Interest now moves to :
                      1. The results of all the tennis finals at Wimbledon this weekend.
                      2. The English Women’s Soccer Team’s progress through the 2022 Euro Championships this month.
                      3. Brexit opposition has settled at ‘Grumble, grumble. You’ll be sorry. Toldja,’
                      4. Covid refuses to go away.
                      But Northern Ireland always has a tinder box potential.
                      And financially as a UK we’re nearly skint (bust/broke etc) All very British.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I don’t know whether to laugh or cry! I just hope that at the end of the day, your next PM will be more conscionable than Boris and care more about the people and the future of the nation. Some days it seems the entire world has lost its collective marbles.

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  2. This came out of ‘left field’ – was not on my radar at all, and after hearing this story following so close to the others – I find myself almost like I’ve been whacked unexpectedly on the head and am going round in circles trying to process what just happened. I find this so bizarre in a time when most any intelligent person – and even the not-so-intelligent ones, in fact even the indigenous who don’t watch current events or world news – realize that we’re on a runaway environmental disaster train….. yet — Do these people think they are gods? How can they think they know what’s best for our planet? Even people who have spent their entire lives immersed in studying the environment are having trouble with solutions to slow/stop/divert this runaway train.

    and for me it’s like, ‘this is a dream.. a dream.’ Then I think, “no, this was a script written about three billion years ago, and the chess players are aligning and clicking into place, though with the art of making it appear as if it’s been in just a handful of years…” and the master behind this board game has been plotting and manipulating the big picture. It’s truly baffling to me, watching from afar while knowing with changes like this, things will not improve.

    Time to beam us up, Scotty….


    Liked by 2 people

    • Indeed, more often than not I wonder when and how I fell into this alternate universe where everything seems to be upside down! Only the most willfully ignorant can possibly ignore or deny the effects of climate change and the damage that is being done to our world, but apparently there are six very ignorant justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Sigh. If it is baffling from a distance, imagine what it’s like being in the middle of this vast intellectual wasteland 😞 Hugs, my friend.


    • I only discovered Robert Hubbell within the past year, but I do subscribe now to his newsletter and have quoted him a time or two. He is wise and usually spot on.


  3. It is scary as hell, but I’m with Heather Cox Richardson, whose tweets and newsletter are among the sources I turned to in my post today. This radical Supreme Court majority is, quite literally, killing us/US. We have to stop them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I do find Ms. Richardson’s newsletters help me clarify the latest events, though I don’t think I follow her on Twitter — I shall have to remedy that. And … I saw your post, but haven’t yet read it … it’s bookmarked to be read tomorrow! Yes, they will destroy the very foundations of this nation if given a chance and we MUST stop them.


  4. Jill, so SCOTUS says it is OK to tell a woman what to do with her body but it not OK to tell a company to stop polluting our land, air and waterways. Plus, they feel it is not OK to govern guns at the state level better than at the federal level. To sum up, you must bear a child you do not want and cannot take care of, but don’t worry he or she will be exposed to more toxins and bullets when he or she is born. Did I get that right? Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, I think you’ve summed it up quite well. To add my own two cents … those fetuses, or babies, they have deemed a woman shall be forced to carry and birth, lose all relevance at the time of birth. Thereafter, they are fair game to be shot & killed in schools or shopping with their mum in the grocery store. I truly cringe at what the Court might do in their next session. Fortunately, they’re on summer hiatus until October, so they can’t do much damage until then.


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  6. I would like to offer reassurance. Just as the Dobbs decision did not outlaw abortion nationwide (any woman who wants an abortion will get one), the EPA decision moves law making powers back to the legislature where they belong. An executive branch that writes and adjudicates law is the very definition of tyranny. Fortune smiles on a self governing free people. Such a people has the power to elect a legislature who will do the right thing.


    • Unfortunately, your reassurance is not fact-based, but rather wears rose-coloured glasses. No, any woman wanting an abortion will NOT be able to get one. And the EPA decision is a blow, perhaps even a fatal blow, for the environment. Next up, when the Court reconvenes, voting rights will be on the chopping block. At some point, you will be forced to admit that these decisions have lethal consequences.

      Liked by 2 people

      • “The court’s ruling — that the EPA cannot mandate nationwide energy policies to limit greenhouse gas emissions without specific approval from Congress — threatens to cripple the U.S. government’s ability to fight climate change, according to the dissent.
        “By insisting instead that an agency can promulgate an important and significant climate rule only by showing ‘clear congressional authorization’ at a time when the court knows that Congress is effectively dysfunctional, the court threatens to upend the national government’s ability to safeguard the public health and welfare.”
        According to the new Supreme Court ruling, all hopes for significant climate action in the U.S. now rest on this divided Congress.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Indeed, it’s not only this particular ruling, but also the precedent it sets. It’s bad enough when a member of Congress acts with willful ignorance — but at least we can vote them OUT! The Justices are in for life and there isn’t a damn thing We the People can do or say. They have set this nation back at least 100 years with their rulings of the past two weeks … and they’ve already announced their intent to do much more harm when they return from their 3-month summer vacation!

          Other nations will take matters into their own hands, for what the U.S. does or doesn’t do about climate change affects them every bit as much as it affects us. We all live on the same planet, and carbon emissions don’t just affect the climate in the U.S., but all over the planet. This won’t go down without a fight.


        • I no doubt read the poem somewhere in high school or college, and just now went back and re-read it. However, I must admit with most poetry like that, I am lost … I fail to understand what I presume is a hidden meaning. This is why I struggled though literature courses in college … I take words at their face value and never seem able to get the deeper meaning. However, the poem seems apocalyptic, so it would fit in well with our current times and things I’ve been writing about.

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        • Oh my favorite poem..explained. Sorry this is a bit long, but…

          But what is the poem actually about? The first verse seems pretty straightforward:
          Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst 
Are full of passionate intensity.

          Yeats wrote these lines in 1919, the year after the Great War saw the collapse of three royal houses—the Habsburgs, in Austro-Hungary; the Hohenzollerns, in Germany; and in Russia, the Romanovs, whose double-eagle was replaced by the hammer and sickle insignia of the Bolsheviks—and a pandemic killed off a significant percentage of the population. His was a topsy-turvy world.
          A century and change later, the world is just as topsy-turvy. Anarchic forces are again on the rise. There is no center, at least not politically. Things do seem to be falling apart. And there is no question that the worst are intensely passionate.

          Yeats was interested in the occult. He made horoscopes and read tarot. “The Second Coming” was supposedly the product of some sort of automatic writing, the collective consciousness using him as a vessel to articulate itself. Which makes the second and final verse all the more ominous:

          Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

          Here, Yeats describes a vision, like something from Revelation—and it’s not a hopeful one. Sure, there is a Second Coming, but the “rough beast” he foretells is not to be confused with the Prince of Peace. And he was right! In 1919, Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin were already walking the earth. Fascism was on the rise. The world had yet to endure the Great Depression, or the unspeakable horrors of the Second World War.
          But is the poem really so hopeless? Look closer. After describing his vision—the “revelation at hand,” the creature purloined from the End Times language of John of Patmos—he inserts a semicolon, and the magical word so essential to the poetical form: but. All the poet knows for sure is that the long absence of Jesus has reached an inflection point. In this spiritual vacuum, Yeats asks, so many centuries after the last apostle has breathed his last, what false Messiahs may appear?

          What the poem really means, I think, is this: When the leaders of the forces of good are absent—when their voices are silent; when the rest of us must rely only on blind faith that they are working on our behalf at all—the minions of darkness and evil brazenly ascend. In such a void, a rough beast can indeed slouch his way to rebirth at Bethlehem (or, if you prefer a more temporal example, to election to the White House), perverting all that is virtuous and true, and causing those of us fighting on the side of truth and justice to lose faith (“lack all conviction”).

          In short, it’s the silence that dooms us.
          The falconers need to raise their voices.

          Liked by 3 people

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