SCOTUS today

A big day at the Supreme Court today:

  • The Court rejected a lawsuit against several power companies, saying that job of regulating carbon dioxide belongs to the EPA, not the judicial system. (However, if I am understanding properly, the court did not address the EPA’s effort to regulate carbon dioxide in a manner contrary to law.)
  • The Court rejected a preposterous class action against Wal-Mart.
  • The Court refused to hear ACORN’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling that upheld the defunding of ACORN.

But the decision I want to highlight most is a 8-0 decision in Bond v. United States. Anthony Kennedy’s opinion on the role of federalism in the defense of individual liberty is eloquent:

The federal system rests on what might at first seem a counterintuitive insight, that “freedom is enhanced by thecreation of two governments, not one.” . . . The Framers concluded that allocation of powers between the National Government and the States enhances freedom, first by protecting the integrity of the governments themselves, and second by protecting the people, from whom all governmental powers are derived. . .

Federalism also protects the liberty of all persons within a State by ensuring that laws enacted in excess of dele­gated governmental power cannot direct or control their actions. . . By denying any one government com­plete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power.  When government acts in excess of its lawful powers, that liberty is at stake.

The limitations that federalism entails are not therefore a matter of rights belonging only to the States.  States are not the sole intended beneficiaries of federalism. . . An individual has a direct interest in objecting to laws that upset the constitutional balancebetween the National Government and the  States  when the enforcement of those laws causes injury that is con­crete, particular, and redressable. Fidelity to principles of federalism is not for the States alone to vindicate.

This decision was easy in a sense, in that it dealt with federalism largely in the abstract, rather than in application. Still, it’s nice to see.

(Via Bench Memos.)

UPDATE: There is an even-handed summary of the Wal-Mart decision here.


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