Will 2012 provide a repeat of 2008? Specifically, will the Supreme Court’s October 2012 term find the Supreme Court repeatedly reversing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in environmental cases as it did in the October 2008 term? In 2008, the Supreme Court heard an unusually high number of environmental cases, six: Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Summers v. Earth Island Inst., Entergy Corp. v. Riverkeeper Inc., Coeur Alaska, Inc. v. Se. Alaska Conservation Council,Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. United States and Shell Oil Co. v. United States (the latter two of which were consolidated). In all of these cases, the side favored by environmental groups had prevailed below, and in all of these cases the Supreme Court reversed. Equally notable, however, was that all but one of these cases (Entergy) came from the Ninth Circuit. To some the Supreme Court’s October 2008 term showed the Roberts Court lacked sympathy for environmentalist positions. To others, it was further evidence the Ninth Circuit was out of step on environmental issues.
2012 could provide a repeat of 2008 because the Supreme Court is being asked to grant cert in several cases from the Ninth Circuit that are potential outliers in environmental law. As Richard Frank notes at Legal Planet, the Court will consider the such cases in tomorrow’s conference – Pacific Merchant Shipping Assn. v. Goldstene, Georgia-Pacific West, Inc. v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center (along with Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center, another petition from the same case), and Los Angeles County Flood Control Dist. v. Natural Resources Defense Council – all three of which have been identified among SCOTUSBlog’s “Petitions to Watch.” Of note, the Solicitor General has recommended against cert in [...]