By Robert A. Vella
Today was a big news day for the U.S. Supreme Court which issued several important rulings on a wide range of issues (some good, some bad). Let’s get right to it…
The U.S. Supreme Court plunked a setback into the lap of the Environmental Protection Agency Monday by trashing the agency’s regulation of emissions of mercury and other air toxins (MATS) from electricity-generating plants. The court overturned a lower-court decision in the case of Michigan v. EPA stating that the agency had acted reasonably when it chose not to considering costs first in its effort to control those emissions. The justices split 5-4, with the four liberals on the side of the EPA and the four conservatives and Justice Anthony Kennedy on the side of industry and the states that had sued.
The ruling—Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency and two other consolidated cases—is a major disappointment for environmentalists and drag on the Obama administration’s efforts to reduce toxic emissions. While it doesn’t bar the EPA from regulating these toxins, it means the agency has to start over, this time considering costs as one of the factors BEFORE making a decision about whether to limit emissions.
Advocates for redistricting reform scored a crucial victory today when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission. Passed by the voters in 2000, in an effort to remove legislators’ bias from the redistricting process, the commission was imperiled by the GOP’s rabid desire to abolish it so that they could gerrymander the state’s congressional districts to give themselves a partisan advantage.
This case has broad implications for other electoral reform efforts in several other states. As with Arizona, California has its own independent redistricting commission that would have almost assuredly been found unconstitutional had the plaintiffs prevailed. Similarly, Florida voters passed anti-gerrymandering rules in 2010 (the legislature’s redistricting plan is subject to ongoing litigation in state court), and redistricting measures have appeared on the ballot in other states like Ohio.
At issue in this case was the meaning of the Article One constitutional clause governing the rules regarding congressional elections…
The court, by a five to four margin, upheld the use of midazolam for lethal injection.
Oklahoma has been using midazolam as other drugs previously used for lethal injection have become difficult to obtain—drug manufacturers don’t want to be the go-to source for killing people—and in April, 2014, it led to a horrifically botched execution…