Walcher: Because I Said So!

by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As Appearing in The Daily Sentinel

A federal judge has ruled that the government must consider reducing mining in America’s top coal-producing region, to fight climate change. Moreover, he ordered the Bureau of Land Management to work with the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and four other environmental industry groups, to write a new management plan for the region.

Montana District Judge Brian Morris, a 2013 Obama appointee, has apparently relied on an entirely new body of law, discovering a previously unknown section of the Constitution. Like all federal judges, he swore an oath to perform his duties “impartially… under the Constitution and laws of the U.S.” Nothing in those documents gives Judge Morris authority to order the BLM to work with non-government organizations (the same ones that filed the lawsuit in question) to alter America’s use of energy.

I bet Judge Morris is a great dad — not the kind whose kids run wild, but a believer in tough love. In fact, in this era my own parents would both make terrific federal judges. Many times when we questioned the reason for their various decisions and rulings, their response was simply, “because I said so.” I read Judge Morris’s ruling in the coal case, and that is essentially the source of his extraordinary power to change our society.

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