Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves a nuanced legacy on environmental issues

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN | Best known for her advocacy for equality between the sexes, Ginsburg was also thought of as a reliable vote for environmental interests that argued before the high court. In practice, her jurisprudence was much more complex.


In the landmark climate case American Electric Power Co. Inc. v. Connecticut, Ginsburg led the court’s unanimous opinion that said private entities and states could not sue power companies for their contributions to climate change under federal common law.


The 2011 case followed the court’s 5-4 decision—Ginsburg was in the majority—in Massachusetts v. EPA, which said that the federal government has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as “air pollutants’ under the Clean Air Act.


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