Jul 17, 2019

The climate legacy of Justice Stevens

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens testifies before a Senate panel in 2014. Photo: Allison Shelley/Getty Images

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who died yesterday at age 99, wrote the landmark 5-4 decision in 2007 that clearly gave EPA the power to regulate GHG emissions.

Why it matters: EPA began acting on that authority during the Obama years. Major rules include emissions standards for cars and power plants, which the Trump administration is weakening.

  • Stevens also wrote the majority opinion in 1984's Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, which gives agencies leeway to interpret statutes that are vague or silent on a topic. That’s important for regulators’ ability to craft rules on global warming.

Why you'll hear about this again: Democratic White House candidates are vowing to revive robust administrative steps, even as they float big legislative ideas that would face long odds in Congress.

What we're watching: How the expanded conservative majority on the Supreme Court will view the scope of EPA's power when another climate case arrives on its docket.

What they're saying: Several experts I asked about this last year said that while the conservative-led high court might narrowly view EPA's power under the Clean Air Act, it's unlikely to upend the 2007 decision Stevens wrote in Massachusetts v. EPA.

Go deeper

29 states and cities sue Trump administration over weakening of climate rules

New York Attorney General Letitia James. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A group of 29 states and local governments on Tuesday filed suit against the Trump administration's move to replace Obama-era climate rules for power plants with a more modest alternative.

Why it matters: The litigation, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, sets the stage for a new federal court battle over the scope of regulators' authority and duty to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

Go deeperArrowAug 13, 2019

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has died

Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court John Paul Stevens, sitting for a portrait in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in May. Photo: Scott McIntyre/for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has died, ABC News first reported Tuesday. He was 99.

"Retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, John Paul Stevens, died this evening at Holy Cross Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, of complications following a stroke he suffered on July 15. He passed away peacefully with his daughters by his side."
— Supreme Court statement
Go deeperArrowUpdated Jul 17, 2019

In photos: John Paul Stevens lies in repose at the Supreme Court

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Chief Justice John Roberts participate in a moment of silence. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/Getty Images

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who died last week at age 99, lied in repose at the court's building in Washington on Monday, prompting visits from the current justices, more than 80 of his former clerks, and President Trump and first lady Melania Trump.

Details: Stevens was the 3rd-longest-serving member of the Supreme Court before his 2010 retirement. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in a private ceremony.

In photosArrowJul 22, 2019