Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Supreme Partisanship

It is great news that the Supreme Court has affirmed that the federal government can regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

It is a victory for a world whose environment seems increasingly threatened by climate change. It is a vindication for states like California that chose not to wait for the federal government and acted to limit emissions that contribute to global warming. And it should feed the growing momentum on Capitol Hill for mandatory limits on carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas.

The 5-to-4 ruling was a rebuke to the Bush administration and its passive approach to the warming threat. The ruling does not require the government to regulate greenhouse gases. But it instructs the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its refusal to regulate emissions, urges it to pay attention to the scientific evidence and says that if it takes the same stance, it has to come up with better reasons than its current “laundry list” of excuses.

However, it was really disappointing for me to see that the court was split on partisan lines. Is there no issue important enough for the usual suspects to put aside their party ties and rule based on the constitution and the law.

The decision was unnervingly close, and some of the arguments in the dissent, written by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., were cause for concern — especially his comments about the “complexities” of the science of climate change, which is too close for comfort to the administration’s party line.

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