Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, may or may not ever receive Senate confirmation. But if he gets to join the Court, his past cases indicate he will provide a “fair hearing” for climate and environmental pleadings, InsideClimate News reports.
Among issues left hanging by Scalia’s death was Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan, which is likely to return to the high court. Until a replacement is named, its bench is evenly split between justices viewed as liberal and those seen as conservative.
“In terms of looking for someone who would give a fair hearing, he’s a big shift from Scalia,” was Harvard law professor Richard Lazarus’ judgment on Garland, currently chief justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which has the country’s busiest regulatory caseload.
Garland is generally unsympathetic to attacks on government regulation based on the so-called non-delegation doctrine—the idea in U.S. law that Congress cannot delegate its authority to government agencies. The nominee “has strong views favouring deference to agency decision-makers,” added UCLA law professor Ann Carlson. “In a dozen close cases in which the court divided, he sided with the agency every time.”
Garland is also known for his interest in the science underlying cases involving environmental issues—in sharp contrast to Scalia.
If the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate sticks to its declared refusal to grant Garland a hearing, however, the nomination may be as far as his Supreme Court career goes.