The U.S. Supreme Court is an obstacle to the future the vast majority want to achieve | Opinion

By Stephen Herzenberg

Last Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in West Virginia vs. EPA that favors coal companies, limits the ability of the federal government to address climate change, and foreshadows future decisions on labor and other regulations that will favor corporations and reinforce economic inequality.

Fair enough. That’s not much of a news alert but rather what people expected from the activist conservative majority on the current court.

It’s important for the public to understand the implications of this decision both narrowly and broadly. From a narrow perspective, the Biden administration and the growing majority of Americans that recognize the existential threat of climate change need to be as creative and forceful as possible in working around the constraints created by the decision. The imperative of rapidly reducing carbon emissions is not going away.

From a broad perspective, it’s important for Americans generally to understand that the high court is a critical obstacle to the future the vast majority want to achieve—one with opportunity for all, that seeks to protect the places we love and only plant we have from the ravages of global warming, and that restores some measure of equity in schooling, in housing, in health, in environmental justice.

U.S. Supreme Court curbs federal power to regulate greenhouse gases, in blow to Biden

Americans may be divided on individual Supreme Court decisions, including on guns and abortion, but—even if they don’t recognize it fully–they are united that we don’t need the high court leaning in again and again on the side of big corporations and the wealthy. But since that’s the Supreme Court we’ve got, it will take organizing, activism, shaming (of the court) and use of the powers the court hasn’t taken away yet to push back.

Turning to the specifics of this decision, the first critical point is that the court in the past would never have overreached to hear the case….specifics on how taking the case illustrates the court’s activism/enthusiasm for regulating from the bench.

Where do we go from here in a narrow sense—on climate.

Get back to the 99 percent vs. the 1 percent: The Climate Action Campaign might want us to say something about how a democratically crafted climate plan can be good for jobs and opportunity/refer back to ReImagine Appalachia jobs studies for Pennsylvania

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority will be an obstacle to achieving this vision—we need to use its extremism to galvanize and unify us to win the world we want anyway.

Stephen Herzenberg is the executive director of the Keystone Research Center, a progressive think-tank in Harrisburg.

Originally published at,by Capital-Star Guest Contributor

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