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It’s time for an all-out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis.

President Biden and Congress must lead the charge to defeat the climate crisis and build a thriving, just and inclusive clean energy future. Join our work to help make it happen.

The Supreme Court’s Ultra-Conservative Majority Isn’t Stopping at Roe

If they want to preserve the fundamental rights of all Americans and save democracy as we know it, Democrats have no choice but to expand the Court.

© 2022 Victoria Pickering/Flickr CC by NC-ND 2.0

In the weeks since the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, court watchers have speculated that in upcoming terms this Court may be poised to strike down other historic precedents like those that established marriage equality and the right to access contraception. But we won’t need to wait until next term to see how the Roberts Court will approach other popular decades-old precedents. In fact, the Court is poised to hand down a ruling in the next few weeks that could gut the Clean Air Act (CAA) as we know it and set a dangerous new precedent that puts more power in the hands of corporations at the expense of every American’s fundamental rights.

West Virginia v. EPA is a case that came out of a number of legal challenges to the Obama-era Clean Power Plan—a rule that never went into effect—that could completely reshape the regulatory landscape as we know it. And just like with Roe v. Wade, the Court may be preparing to strike down decades of legal precedent to issue a ruling that will put millions of people at greater risk of death and illness.

It’s no coincidence that the Supreme Court’s new 6-3 conservative majority is taking swift action to radically alter legal precedent and strip away Americans’ fundamental rights. Right-wing judicial activists, with the support of corporate special interests and Republicans in Congress, have been organizing for years to get here. By blocking qualified nominees and successfully stealing a seat, they have finally secured the illegitimate majority they need to do their dirty work for them. The MAGA majority presents an existential threat to the rights that Americans have taken for granted for decades—and they’re not showing any signs of slowing down. This illegitimate Court is poised to impose their extreme anti-democratic ideology on the American public and deliver right-wing policy victories that would never get enough support to pass in Congress. If they want to preserve the fundamental rights of all Americans and save democracy as we know it, Democrats have no choice but to expand the Court.

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This Court Is Building a Record of Striking Down Longstanding, Popular Precedent

If the Court rules to gut the Clean Air Act, it will be undermining one of the most successful environmental laws in history. CAA regulations prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths and generate trillions in economic benefits every year. And the American people support regulations to clean up our environment; a 2018 poll from the American Lung Association (ALA) found that two-thirds of voters are favorable toward the CAA, and, a 2020 Pew survey reported that 65% of Americans feel the government is doing too little to protect clean air.

One critical factor at issue in West Virginia v. EPA is the agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions—an authority that was already affirmed by the Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA. But as we learned from the Dobbs v. Jackson leak, this conservative majority won’t hesitate to overturn decades of precedent if it serves the interests of the politicians and industries that helped them secure power. And in this case, the Court could go even further by overturning the Chevron doctrine, one of the cornerstones of how we approach regulation in the modern age, or even reintroducing the nondelegation doctrine which could hobble most of the modern federal government overnight.

What this majority is doing is fundamentally undemocratic. Nationwide, voters want the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade by a 37-point margin, and one 2018 ALA poll found that 74% of voters support EPA’s efforts to enforce stricter limits on air pollution. But Supreme Court justices are not accountable to the American people. Even if voters kick out every Republican who packed the Court, the conservative majority will still be comfortably in place thanks to their lifetime appointments. The status quo is untenable.

"This conservative majority won’t hesitate to overturn decades of precedent if it serves the interests of the politicians and industries that helped them secure power."

The Court’s Attacks on Fundamental Rights Don’t Take Place in a Vacuum

The damage that has been and will be done by the Supreme Court’s MAGA majority does not happen in isolation. As a result of decades of environmental racism, people of color are more likely to experience air pollution than their white counterparts, even when factors like income and region are taken into account. That statistic demonstrates a great injustice on its own, but when combined with the fact that pollution and climate change impacts are linked to adverse birth outcomes, it begins to paint a picture of how this court’s attacks on Americans’ fundamental rights will have devastating, compounding effects. Already, 38 states have laws that can be used to charge a parent for adverse pregnancy outcomes, and enforcement of those laws has largely targeted low income Black women in the South. With the Court poised to strike down Roe v. Wade and gut the EPA’s ability to enforce the CAA, more Americans will lose pregnancies as a result of environmental impacts like pollution and extreme heat—and they will be at risk of being put behind bars for these adverse outcomes. This purportedly  “pro-life” Court is moving in a direction that will guarantee more unnecessary death and suffering in America: both as a result of millions of people losing access to safe abortion care and the worsening impacts of pollution and climate change.

Whether it’s the right to breathe clean air, the right to make your own health care decisions, the right to vote, or the ability of the government to function, the common factor putting all of them at risk is this packed, radical, right-wing Court. Six unelected lifetime appointees hold the power to reshape America’s legal system to impose the ideological will of extreme right wing activists onto the general public and support the interests of the corporations that elevated them to power. It has never been clearer that Democrats must expand the Court and end this burgeoning era of governance by illegitimate court. With the MAGA majority already chipping away at our ability to fight the climate crisis and the fundamental rights of millions of people, they must take action before it's too late.

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