Tom Goldstein: “This is the most exciting moment for liberal advocacy groups concerned with the courts ever”

November 25th, 2013

Tom is quoted in an article in Bloomberg, titled “Businesses Wary as Obama Picks Get Edge in Senate Rules.” For sure, now that the D.C. Circuit will have a majority of Democrat-appointed judges, business interests are worried.

The court — which has three vacancies and where Republicans now have an edge — also would probably rule on the administration’s proposal to limit carbon-dioxide pollution from power plants. Those rules are under development by the Environmental Protection Agency, and may not be ripe for a legal challenge for more than a year.

Groups representing coal producers such as Alpha Natural Resources Inc. (ANR) andPeabody Energy Corp. (BTU) have tried to fight off EPA regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. They argue the EPA’s proposed standard relies on a technology that’s not commercially available.

The change in Senate procedure “can only result in more bad news for the energy industry as EPA will likely be be even more bold in attempting to run roughshod over state rights,” Laura Sheehan, a spokeswoman for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said in an e-mail.

Any of the financial regulations soon to be issued could be affected by this change to the D.C. Circuit, said Jaret Seiberg, a financial services policy analyst at Guggenheim Securities LLC’s Washington Research Group. Possible challenges, he said, could come to the so-called Volcker Rule, which would curb proprietary trading by banks.

In fact, there are several Obamacare cases pending in the D.C. Circuit. These appointments could affect the composition of any panels hearing those appeals. And, I should add, even if the GOP retakes the White House in 2016, there won’t be many vacancies to fill on the D.C. Circuit for the foreseeable future.