WASHINGTON – Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is facing questions on his environmental record.
- Brett Kavanaugh is being vetted for the U.S. Supreme Court
- Kavanaugh has voted in several high-profile cases
- Clean Water Act may head to the high court soon
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Throughout his time on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Kavanaugh voted in a number of high-profile cases to limit Environmental Protection Agency rules.
“One of the largest areas of caseload that he has on the DC Circuit has been environmental cases,” said Courtney Hight with the Sierra Club.
Hight worries about Kavanaugh’s approach to interpreting environmental law and how it could impact states like Florida.
“His record on not believing that the EPA should regulate greenhouse gases, that means all the chemicals that go into creating climate change will then be out in the atmosphere that we breathe, that goes into the ocean and into our water,” Hight said.
A case that could head to the high court in the near future is the Clean Water Act, the primary federal law addressing water pollution. If confirmed, Kavanaugh could have the key vote on the court on environmental cases.
“That will have an impact not just on Florida but people across the country, potentially 1 in 3 people across the country will be affected by this decision,” Hight explained.
Republicans on the committee are defending Kavanaugh’s environmental record, describing him as a judge who follows the letter of the law and calling on Congress to pass more legislation to ensure regulations are in place.
“Congress ought to be embracing more of the responsibility again because voters can vote for us or against us. That’s the sort of accountability we need in our political system,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R) Texas in an interview with Spectrum News. “Judges again don’t decide pro-environment or anti-environment, they interpret the laws as written by Congress and under the constitution.”
In answering questions on his record, Kavanaugh presented himself as an impartial jurist on Wednesday.
“I’m a pro-law judge and in environmental cases, in some cases, I’ve ruled against environmental interests. In many cases, I’ve ruled for environmental interests,” Judge Brett Kavanaugh testified.
However, the future of environmental regulations with Kavanaugh on the court is uncertain.
“It’s how we protect our basic civil rights, it comes through the government. We need a fully-functioning government to protect the people of this country,” Hight said.
When the Supreme Court decides environmental cases, its primary role is usually defining the scope of agency authority under one of the major environmental statutes.