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“Barrett as Justice Gives Climate Cases Tougher Path to Court”

“President Donald Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court could make it tougher for environmentalists to wage future legal fights.

Barrett has applied a narrow view of standing, the legal bar for bringing a case, in her rulings as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. That’s a red flag for public interest lawyers whose ability to sue over environmental harms has long been under siege by conservatives who favor stricter standing requirements.

“She’s going to be another vote to narrow standing, so we could see things switch at a fundamental level,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity, which frequently litigates over endangered species and other environmental issues.

Strict tests for legal standing can keep challengers out of court on issues as varied as civil rights, consumer protections, and employment law if prospective litigants can’t demonstrate that an action has harmed them. Environmental advocates historically have been especially vulnerable under strict standing rules because they’re sometimes viewed as having a looser connection to the activity they’re challenging.”

Ellen M. Gilmer reports for Bloomberg Environment September 28, 2020.