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Justice Scalia’s Death Could Lead to a Seismic Shift in Environmental Law


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The death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a personal tragedy for his loved ones and a loss for any and all who love liberty.


While Scalia’s time serving on the Supreme Court influenced a wide range of issues, his critical analyses and carefully crafted opinions on environmental issues had an outsized impact on environmental policy and law. Scalia’s vote was often the difference between protecting individual liberty against attempts to expand government power and rulings that would have imposed the misanthropic wishes of radical environmentalists on the public.


Scalia was not opposed to environmental protection, but he also didn’t believe the environment was a sacred cow that must be protected or promoted at the expense of other legitimate societal goals or, more importantly for Scalia, by ignoring the limits placed on government by the U.S. Constitution and the actual wording of environmental laws.


During his nearly three decades on the court, Scalia helped define and delimit the concept of standing in environmental cases; he made clear regulations or laws that reduce or destroy property rights or property values to protect environmental goals amount to takings, meriting compensation; and he established in many instances costs have to be considered when writing environmental rules.


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