Breaking Precedent: SCOTUS in the Midst of a Pandemic

In County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, the U.S. Supreme Court held, 6-3, that the Clean Water Act requires a national pollutant discharge elimination system permit “when there is the functional equivalent of a direct discharge.” The Court also decided Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian, holding, 7-2, that landowners adjacent to a Superfund site were potentially responsible parties under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. Both of these decisions surprised many, particularly given the coalition of Justices who formed the majorities. Other cases were delayed or postponed, and for the first time, the Court heard oral arguments via teleconference due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

On June 12, 2020, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) hosted a panel of experts who discussed what this term’s Supreme Court decisions and the Court’s new way of operating might bode for the upcoming term. B&D Principal John Cruden, former Assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, spoke on the panel, "Breaking Precedent: SCOTUS in the Midst of a Pandemic," along with Richard Lazarus (Professor of Law, Harvard Law School), Davina Pujari (Partner, Hanson Bridgett), and Sambhav Sankar (Senior Vice President of Programs, Earthjustice).

Click here to read a transcript of the panel discussion on ELI's website. 

©2020. Published in The Environmental Law Reporter, Vol. 50, No. 10, October 2020, by the Environmental Law Institute. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.