Here Come the (Trump) Judges:

Their Potential Environmental Impact

I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department
–Donald John Trump, 45th President of the U.S.

This installment of the Here Comes the (Trump) Judges series continues the discussion of the potential long-term impact of Trump’s judicial appointments on climate and clean energy policies and programs. Federal courts in the Trump era are playing an increasingly pivotal role in the efforts of climate and clean energy advocates to maintain existing environmental protections — not only those put in place by the Obama administration but foundational policies and programs dating back to the 1970s.

Readers may find that judging the judges is not the same as assessing candidates for elected office.

It will not be the last time in the series that I will address these issues — so if at the end of this installment if you’re left wanting, you’ll just have to come back for more.

There go some of the nominees

  • Brett Talley who in 2016 tweeted (no longer visible) Hillary Rotten Clinton might be the best Trumpism yet and was found to have supported the KKK in at least one other tweet.
  • Primary briefing in matter where major oil company prevailed in complex federal jurisdictional disputes, which ultimately resulted in dismissal of royalty owner class action; and,
  • Matter [sic] where (US Department of) Interior Board of Appeal determined Bureau of Land Management’s conditions of approval of Application for Permit to Drill were arbitrary and capricious.

The Donald has every intention of continuing apace despite what anyone on the Hill has to say about the quality of his picks.

A delicate balance — why it matters

  • Second is the existence of a branch of government less subject to the whims of politicians than either of the other two. Lifetime tenure offers judges and justices the needed protections to make that so.
  • Third is the appointment of judges and justices who are of exceptional character; recognize and adhere to the limitations of their positions; understand that acceptance of their decisions is based upon establishing foundations upon which subsequent steps can be taken; and, most importantly, capable of leaving their bigotry and prejudice outside the courtroom door.

Our nation has stood for 242 years — not always tall, not always strong — in large part because we the people continue to give our consent to being governed. Seeding the courts with judges ill-qualified or of low character must now be considered the greatest long-term threat we now face, greater even than a changing climate.

My awe of our legal system is matched only by disdain for the hyper-partisanship of today’s politics and disappointment that federal courts have become the primary field upon which environmental protections must now be fought for.

The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring. It means today not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.

Not a position I agree with, but one held by many jurists past, present and future. As practiced, it is a perspective that has mixed reasonably with the opinions of others on federal courts.

With Gorsuch’s confirmation, Trump is one nomination away from shifting the balance of the bench to the right — no matter the slight leftward slide of individual justices over time.

The balance of SCOTUS will undoubtedly play a major part in the 2018 mid-term elections. Whether Trump or Pence is in the Oval Office when the dust settles in November, a Democratic Senate could jam up any new nominee at least until after the 2020 presidential election.

Stronberg is a senior executive and attorney with over 40 years of experience in federal and state energy, environmental and sustainability issues.