Earth Day Highlights Importance of Judicial Nominations, Lawmakers and Advocates Say

April 22, 2010
"Forty years ago today, twenty million Americans - fully one-tenth of our country's population at the time - came together to express the wakeup call that was Earth Day 1970," writes Sen. John Kerry today on the 40th anniversary of Earthy Day. This "wakeup call" is being increasingly answered by federal courts, some observers note.

"Federal courts decide the fate of lawsuits that attack safeguards for clean air, clean water, endangered species, and special natural places," Judging the Environment's Glenn Sugameli recently wrote at ACSblog. "Judges must uphold anti-pollution and conservation laws against unjustifiable claims that their enactment exceeded Congress' Commerce Clause authority, and that they take away non-existent 'property rights' to pollute."

"Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens's retirement highlights just how much Americans rely on fair and independent judges to uphold and enforce laws that protect people and our environment," Sugameli concludes.

EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson echoed Sugameli's sentiments today, writing, "We have to expand the conversation - and the protections - to new communities, and work for environmental justice."

Expanding protections is one aim of an environmental bill expected to be unveiled Monday by Kerry and fellow Senators Lindsay Graham and Joe Lieberman. The bill would "cap greenhouse gas emissions, expand domestic oil and natural gas production, and boost nuclear power," reports the Houston Chronicle.  

[Image via Wikimedia Commons.]