Jul 2, 2022

Turning back the clock

The US Supreme Court’s decision to block regulation of carbon emissions at power plants is about more than power plants and more than climate change: it’s part of a long-term effort to return to the laissez-faire environment of the 19th century. Too bad we can’t turn back the climate clock, too.

In 1971, a lawyer who had represented the tobacco industry named Lewis F. Powell Jr. — whom President Richard M. Nixon would soon put on the Supreme Court — wrote a confidential memo for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce titled “Attack on American Free Enterprise System.” It is seen as an early call to action by corporate America and its ideological allies….

His memo set out a blueprint to fund a movement to turn public opinion against regulation by equating “economic freedom” for business with individual freedom. In line with that vision, wealthy elites financed a program to build political influence…

The prospect that the Republican-appointed supermajority on the court may be just getting started in assaulting the administrative state over the coming years is alarming those who say the United States needs regulations to have a civilized society.

“If you don’t have regulations, then the only people who will benefit will be those who, with no rules, will make more money,” said Marietta Robinson, a former Obama appointee on the Consumer Product Safety Commission who teaches about administrative agencies at George Washington University’s law school. “But it will be to the great detriment to the rest of us.”

Read more here.