Thursday, September 13, 2007

Courts Count

The International Herald Tribune wrote an article here-- a Northern District of California case which resulted in an Order to the Bush administration to issue two reports on global warming that it had been withholding. An article from Daily Green notes that a Vermont court has upheld a state's right to determine vehicle emissions-- These decisions underscore an important issue --the role of the courts in environmental preservation.

Essentially, only the judiciary can order the executive branch to fulfil its legal obligations. Only the judiciary can determine which laws will be enforced. Therefore, environmental laws are only as strong as the judiciary which is appointed to uphold them. As we saw from the radically conservative opinions which were handed down by the Supreme Court this spring, the highest court of the land is unlikely to uphold or enforce environmental laws which obligate private entities or the executive branch. Therefore, even if the zeitgeist is shifting towards greater governmental involvement in environmental issues, it will be a generation before the judiciary can be changed to ensure that the laws are enforced.

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