BreathCrime: Justice Stevens and the Case of the Hamiltonian Halitosis

April 13th, 2010


“…[T]he court is, in many ways, a legislature of nine.”–William Yeomans, Ted Kennedy’s former chief counsel

“Approximately 80 percent of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let’s not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources.”…”Growing and decaying vegetation in this land are responsible for 93% of the oxides of nitrogen.” –Ronald Reagan

While we’re listing some of Justice Stevens’ Greatest Hit Jobs on the Constitution, let’s not forget the latest and greatest: Massachusetts v. EPA.

Stevens ruled that when Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1970, they wanted to regulate the very air Stevens exhales. If Congress was worried about your breath, your Honor, they would have called it “the Listerine Law”. Trust me.

Stevens based his ruling on years of legal and scientific research. Or an episode of Capt. Planet he once watched with his grandkids. Speaking of planets, shouldn’t a “Global” case be called “The Entire Earth” v. EPA”?

Massachusetts sued the EPA because it was afraid Global Warming would cause the seas to rise. Stevens ruled that there was “risk of catastrophic harm” by causing Kennedys to become trapped underwater without ever leaving their driveways.

The EPA had to pretend it didn’t want this vast new power in order to preserve the separation of powers. “Oh, please Br’er Justice; don’t throw us in that regulatory Briar Patch!”

Justice Roberts:

Global warming may be a “crisis,” even “the most pressing environmental problem of our time.” Indeed, it may ultimately affect nearly everyone on the planet in some potentially adverse way, and it may be that governments have done too little to address it. It is not a problem, however, that has escaped the attention of policymakers in the Executive and Legislative Branches of our Government, who continue to consider regulatory, legislative, and treaty-based means of addressing global climate change.

Apparently dissatisfied with the pace of progress on this issue in the elected branches, petitioners have come to the courts claiming broad-ranging injury, and attempting to tie that injury to the Government’s alleged failure to comply with a rather narrow statutory provision. I would reject these challenges as nonjusticiable.

Justice Scalia:

The Court’s alarm over global warming may or may not be justified, but it ought not distort the outcome of this litigation. This is a straightforward administrative-law case, in which Congress has passed a malleable statute giving broad discretion, not to us but to an executive agency. No matter how important the underlying policy issues at stake, this Court has no business substituting its own desired outcome for the reasoned judgment of the responsible agency.

air (âr) n.: A colorless, odorless, tasteless, Gergen-esque gaseous mixture, mainly nitrogen and oxygen with lesser amounts carbon dioxide and other gases.

To liberals, the Court may be “a legislature”, but CO2 isn’t air pollution–it’s air! ObamaCare will tax us for breathing in, and Stevens’ AirCare will tax us for breathing out. Coming and going.

Like pure helium, the only thing lighter than air is Justice Steven’s grasp of the Constitution. For somebody who claims its a “living, breathing document”, he sure has spent his career trying to choke the life out of it. And it isn’t even his. It is ours.


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