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Thurgood Marshall, Supreme Court, environmental law


"Copyright © 2009 Environmental Law Institute® , Washington, DC. Reprinted with permission from ELI."


Justice Marshall served on the Court from 1967 until 1991. During that period, Congress passed all of the major federal environmental statutes and environmental regulation mushroomed. As a result, the Marshall papers reveal how the Court reached decisions that have shaped modern environmental law. The author, a former law clerk to former Justice Byron White and an associate professor of law at the University of Maryland, begins by describing the history of the Court's treatment of environmental disputes. He then discusses the steps the Justices take in deciding whether to accept cases for review; in reaching decisions on the merits in cases they do review; and in drafting majority, concurring, and dissenting opinions. Throughout the Article, the author furnishes examples from some of the most famous environmental cases that the Court has decided. He describes how the Court sometimes reached final decisions only after Justices switched their votes, demonstrating that historic decisions in some environmental cases were uncertain until the last minute and sometimes depended on factors not revealed in the Court's opinions. He concludes that the resulting portrait of the Court reveals the Justices' personal and intellectual integrity and shows that the Court is an institution that functions extraordinarily well.


Environmental Law