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Justice Coney Barrett appears to be a climate change denier

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, October 28th, 2020 - 10 comments
Categories: China, climate change, Donald Trump, Japan, science, uncategorized, us politics - Tags:

Looks like the future of the United States has been compromised by selection of Amy Coney Barrett as the Supreme Court replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

The prospect of her appointment caused major concern among a group of science and climate change journalists who have published this remarkable open letter.  From the letter:

The vast majority of the world’s people, including those in the United States, not only acknowledge the scientific certainty of climate change, but also want action taken to address it.

We have succeeded because the science is clear, despite there being a massive well-orchestrated effort of propaganda, lies, and denial by the world’s largest fossil fuel corporations, including ExxonMobil and Koch Industries and fossil-fuel-backed institutes and think tanks. It is frightening that a Supreme Court nominee — a position that is in essence one of the highest fact-checkers in the land — has bought into the same propaganda we have worked so hard to dispel.

And it is facts — a word under repeated assault by the Trump administration, which nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett — that are at issue here. “I’m certainly not a scientist…I’ve read things about climate change. I would not say I have firm views on it,” Judge Coney Barrett told Sen. John Kennedy during the Senate confirmation hearings on October 13th.

The next day, Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked Judge Coney Barrett if she believed “human beings cause global warming.” She replied: “I don’t think I am competent to opine on what causes global warming or not. I don’t think that my views on global warming or climate change are relevant to the job I would do as a judge.”

When asked that same day by Sen. Kamala Harris if she accepts that “COVID-19 is infectious,” Coney Barrett said yes. When asked if “smoking causes cancer,” Coney Barrett said yes. But when asked if “climate change is happening, and is threatening the air we breathe and the water we drink,” Judge Coney Barrett said that while the previous topics are “completely uncontroversial,” climate change is instead, “a very contentious matter of public debate.” She continued: “I will not express a view on a matter of public policy, especially one that is politically controversial because that’s inconsistent with the judicial role, as I have explained.”

Judge Coney Barrett repeatedly refused to acknowledge the scientific certainty of climate change. This is an untenable position, particularly when the world’s leading climate scholars warned in 2018 that we have just 12 years to act to bring down global average temperature rise and avert the most dire predictions of the climate crisis.

At the moment when the facts of the case were presented to her, this arbiter of justice freely chose to side with mistruths. Judge Coney Barrett’s responses are factually inaccurate, scientifically unsound, and dangerous.

How can Judge Coney Barrett rule on pending issues of climate change liability, regulation, finance, mitigation, equity, justice, and accountability if she fails to accept even the underlying premise of global warming? The answer is that she cannot.

Their criticism is perfectly appropriate.  Having an open mind does not mean that it has to be completely devoid of any background understanding.  It only requires the ability to change your mind, not refuse to accept that most certain of scientific facts that human induced climate change is happening.  And good background understanding of major issues should be of benefit to a Judge.

The letter did not work but what did we expect?  The Republican Party cannot even deal adequately with the Covid pandemic.  Expecting it to even acknowledge let alone plan to deal with climate change takes a great deal of misplaced imagination.

The letter shows why Coney Barrett’s appointment is so important for Republicans.  She could be on the Supreme Court for decades and during that time it appears she will be a continuous hand brake on what is already emergency action that needs to be taken now to address our changing climate.

Meanwhile elsewhere in the world more advanced leadership are making some profound decisions.  China had during the Paris Accord negotiations pledged to peak its CO2 output by 2030 or earlier if possible.  It has recently significantly improved its position by pledging to be carbon neutral by 2060.  From Aljazeera:

Chinese leaders will discuss ambitious new measures to tackle climate change on Monday at a government plenum to finalise a new five-year national development plan, after Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to make the country “carbon neutral” by 2060.

And Japan has also announced a dramatic improvement in its climate change response.

Earlier this year it was criticised for the paucity of its response.  From the Guardian:

Japan has laid out its plans to tackle greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris agreement in the run-up to UN climate talks this year, becoming the first large economy to do so.

But its proposals were criticised by campaigners as grossly inadequate, amid fears the Covid-19 crisis could prompt countries to try to water down their climate commitments.

The UK, which will host the talks, hopes every country will produce renewed targets on curbing emissions and achieving net zero carbon by 2050.

New commitments are needed to achieve the Paris goals of holding temperature rises to no more than 2C, and ideally 1.5C, above pre-industrial levels, as on current national targets the world would far exceed those limits.

Japan’s carbon targets – known as its nationally determined contribution (NDC) in the UN jargon – as announced on Monday morning are almost unchanged from its commitments made in 2015 towards the Paris accord, however.

The country’s target of a 26% reduction in emissions by 2030, based on 2013 levels, is rated as “highly insufficient” by the Climate Action Tracker analysis, meaning that if all targets were at this level, temperature rises would exceed 3C.

But new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has pledged for Japan to become carbon neutral by 2050.  Again from the Guardian:

Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, has said the country will become carbon neutral by 2050, heralding a bolder approach to tackling the climate emergency by the world’s third-biggest economy.

“Responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth,” Suga said on Monday in his first policy address to parliament since taking office.

“We need to change our thinking to the view that taking assertive measures against climate change will lead to changes in industrial structure and the economy that will bring about growth.”

To applause from MPs, he added: “I declare we will aim to realise a decarbonised society.”

Covid has provided us with an opportunity to see that a world involving less air travel and less consumption is possible.  It is great that two of the world’s major economies are upping what they are prepared to do.  But it appears that the US of A will continue to be obstructionist.  For a while to come.

10 comments on “Justice Coney Barrett appears to be a climate change denier ”

  1. Andre 1

    But, but, … her e-mails…

    Yes, the fact that Handmaid Barrett appears to be a denier will be an obstacle and handbrake on transition away from dino energy in the US. It means that legislative actions will have to be much more carefully constructed and limited in scope to survive the inevitable attempts to overturn them using a reactionary judiciary.

    In the longer run, electrifying everything will still happen. Because for most applications electricity works better, and it's going to be cheaper. The Supreme Court can certainly put the brakes on legislative attempts to speed that transition, but they can't stop technological progress and they can't win against physics and economics.

    edit: this piece about military efforts to transition away from dino-juice is just one illustration of why it will happen eventually. It’s just a matter of how quickly. And how much accumulated emissions and their effects we will all have to deal with.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/26/opinions/climate-change-pentagon-flournoy/index.html

  2. aj 2


    The Supreme Court now contains a justice who was unable to name the freedoms protected by the First Amendment. What could possibly go wrong?

    • Spectator 2.1

      Hi AJ

      The American Bar Association disgarees with you. The ABA rated ACB as "well qualified" for the role, giving her the highest possible rating.

      And if Mother Jones want to go after ACB's experience, I'd have to wonder where they were when Justice Elena Kagan was nominated by President Barack Obama with no experience as a sitting judge prior to her confirmation (https://theweek.com/articles/494505/elena-kagan-does-matter-never-been-judge).

      [lprent: You made a statement in response to a criticism about the judges understanding on first amendment freedoms that I cannot substantiate. The ABA said she was well qualified, but I can’t see anywhere that they mentioned well qualified about the first amendment? Perhaps you’d like to substantiate what they said that about her first amendment knowledge rather than simply making it up.

      Interesting that you picked a link to an article that doesn’t even mention first amendment. What exactly does that have to do with the reply to the previous comment? Are you simply astroturfing an irrelevant link?

      FFS: Don’t be a dimwit – if you want to respond to a comment, then at the very least respond to what written in the comment by another person rather than talking about something completely different. Admittedly aj put up some kind of poster. But he stupidly didn’t write about that.

      Please Respond to what people actually say. Don’t get baited into responding to artwork. Otherwise I start looking at removing the ability to put up images in comments. ]

      • aj 2.1.1

        I understand and apologise. I don't wish to ruin the image insert capability for those who have very good reason for it's use.

  3. Andre 3

    The piece below discusses one of the tools that Handmaid Barrett might attempt use to obstruct climate action – reviving the long-defunct "non-delegation" doctrine. This is the idea that Congress can't just give a federal agency a goal and let the agency work out how to achieve it, but that Congress must instead give detailed instructions on how to act.

    Of course, this runs up against the notions of an imperial presidency the Repugs have been so enthusiastic about in the last few years and indeed, the Repug platform this year was (almost) literally 'whatever Emperor Palputin wants'. But Repugs haven't recently shown any difficulty with situational ethics and interpretation, so this incompatibility shouldn't be an obstacle.

    https://grist.org/politics/this-hidden-doctrine-could-stymie-climate-action-under-the-new-supreme-court-with-amy-coney-barrett/

    • RedBaronCV 3.1

      I saw those articles – there has been several of them. All interesting. I also wondered if the Dems would be able to rearrange the various appeal court circuits so they covered different states and therefore basically could gerrymander the judge pool to some extent. There was a passing note about increasing the number of the circuits – interested to see that the number of supreme court judges equalled the number of circuits at one point. But I know very little about the system. I can't see the Dems having the luxury of doing nothing though about the situation though – if only because they need to support voting rights.

  4. joe90 4

    She's a real charmer.

    But according to the data, Barrett is more of a right-wing radical than either of these mediocre white men. And it’s not just abortion rights. Barrett has displayed the most far-right ideology in the areas of civil rights, criminal rights and discrimination suits. So when Wooten appealed to the Seventh Circuit, Coney and her unqualified justices reached an astonishing conclusion:

    Terrell Day didn’t have the right to breathe.

    The court accepted every fact of the case but determined that Wooten shouldn’t even stand trial. They essentially ruled that Wooten was immune from the consequences of his actions because “the only right [Day] can assert would be the right of an out-of-breath arrestee to not have his hands cuffed behind his back after he complains of difficulty breathing.” However, the judges woefully admitted that they could “find no Seventh Circuit precedent clearly establishing such a right.”

    They wrote that down on paper.

    One of Shanika Day’s attorneys called it a “radical departure” from prior cases while co-counsel Faith Alvarez said the ruling put the burden of proof “on the person who’s dying. It’s no longer on the police to be trained.”

    The Unknown Amy Barrett

    This is not even the tip of the Amy Coney Barrett iceberg.

    She has also written that being called a “stupid-ass nigger” by one’s work supervisor doesn’t necessarily constitute a hostile work environment. She also voted to deny employees of Autozone a rehearing after her colleagues ruled that the auto parts giant didn’t violate the civil rights of its Black employees by forcing them to work exclusively in Black neighborhoods. She wrote that gun rights are as important as voting rights.

    In a campus sexual assault appeals case, she literally argued against believing women. In a separate decision, a woman won a lawsuit after she sued for being “repeatedly raped by a prison guard.” A circuit court ruled that the prison shared responsibility for the sexual assaults.

    Amy Comey Barrett voted to overturn it.

    In a unanimous decision, Amy and the Conservative Court Jesters decided that the prison and the county could not be held liable because the numerous rapes “fell outside of the guard’s official duties” and “were in no way actuated by a purpose to serve [the] county.”

    There’s probably some other stuff too.

    The problem is, we don’t know how much stuff.

    https://www.theroot.com/unqualified-impunity-amy-coney-barrett-once-ruled-that-1845429637

  5. WeTheBleeple 5

    Thanks for putting in some good news with the bad. Well done and appreciated. Go China and Japan. Be something you can really be proud of.

    Amy?

    Apparently, the Lord moves in mysterious ways. So, who are we, mere mortals, to question the intricacies of her his designs.

  6. millsy 6

    The demonstrators in the above images remind me of turkeys voting for Christmas. Enjoy being able to have a bank account in your own name while you can ladies.

    • halfcrown 6.1

      " Enjoy being able to have a bank account in your own name while you can ladies."

      I like that millsy and as the author, Margeret Atwood said when asked if the Republic of Gilead could happen, her answer was something like and I can't remember the exact words " America at the moment is a perfect storm" I agree with that statement with all those rightwing religious nut bars with armed to the teeth vigilantes going around the streets with the blessing of those two major cretins Trump and Pence and the Republican Party.

      I never recommend books as we all have different tastes. However, I feel as a work of fiction (at this stage) it is one of those books, we should all read,

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