August 20, 2005

Roberts the Not-So-Green

So far, Judge Robects doesn't look so hot on choice, equal rights, affirmative action or the Geneva Conventions. Here's another feather in his cap:

... In Rancho Viejo, Roberts dissented from the majority decision that upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's authority under the Endangered Species Act to protect the toad. In what are fast becoming the most famous words ever written by a judge in a minority opinion about an amphibian (and, let's face it, the funniest), Roberts questioned how interstate commerce was relevant to the case of a one-state species: "The panel's approach in this case leads to the result that regulating the taking of a hapless toad that, for reasons of its own, lives its entire life in California constitutes regulating 'Commerce ... among the several States.'"

Legal decisions for decades have upheld the federal government's right to regulate air, water, wild species, and other parts of the shared environment under the commerce clause. While some experts have said that Roberts was not arguing to overturn Rancho Viejo, but rather to send it back to a lower court to find a better legal foundation for protecting the toad, his manner of dissent may indicate that he adheres to the conservative "New Federalist" legal philosophy that would limit the federal government's ability to enforce cornerstone national environmental laws by giving more power over policy to state governments.

"No court has ever upheld a similar constitutional challenge to any federal wildlife statute," said Sugameli, "so the context in which he wrote this is troubling. This is a very important issue which may have implications for Clean Water Act provisions that protect water and wetlands, and other potential environmental issues."

Sugameli is not amused by Roberts' stab at humor, either: "I think the language he used is at least flippant at best ... that's the habitat where [the toad] lives -- the only habitat it can exist in. It's not like it's deciding, 'Gee, I like this better than my vacation home in Florida.'" ...

Verily. Roberts' opinion taken to its logical conclusion would suggest that no one who doesn't live in Brazil should care about the rainforest there, though that forest represents at least half a 'lung' for the entire planet. The environment we live in is highly interdependent, with water, air and food grown in whatever quality soil crossing borders all the time.

The overall health of our ecosystem recognizes no boundaries and neither does any sickness in the body ecological.

Posted by natasha at August 20, 2005 05:03 PM | Environment | Technorati links |