The courts are a bulwark against Donald Trump’s pessimal presidency and the malfeasance of the GOP. Trump has sought an end to climate action in the US, however, there is good reason to believe that the courts may offer our best hope to counter this administration and Republican lawmakers.
Soon after Trump was inaugurated Republicans started to slash both transparency and environmental protections. They are also working on dismantling the Clean Power Plan. The GOP and Trump are both complicit in their support for fossil fuels and climate denial. History will judge Republicans harshly for supporting this president and it should be pointed out that their support for fossil fuels predates Trump, as does their resistance to protecting the environment and refusal to act on climate change. Although Republicans have environmental roots, in the last couple of decades they have consistently opposed environmental legislation and worked to kill existing laws and regulations.
Like the GOP the White House has done what it can to cast aspercions on climate research calling it a “waste”. Nonetheless, government agencies support science and this refutes Trump and the GOP. The 2018 National Climate Assessment is legally mandated, meaning the Trump administration could face lawsuits if they suppresses it. The scientific section of the report requires sign-off from 13 agencies, including the EPA and others now headed by climate deniers, and the White House. On March 12, the NASEM released an independent, expert peer review of the draft NCA4 Vol. II. Final release is currently scheduled for December 2018.
Although Trump’s corruption is hardly a secret, in March a federal judge gave legal credence to the claim by allowing an emoluments lawsuit against him to proceed. Most recently Trump softened his stance on ZTE in response to what a Vanity Fair article alleges may be a bribe.
The justice department’s investigation into Trump may be the best remedy to his rule. Trump is vulnerable to a wide range of legal challenges including those associated with corruption (the emoluments clause of the Constitution*), collusion (treason) with Russia to win the election of 2016 and obstruction of justice. Trump is using all of his powers including the bully pulpit of the presidency to interfere with these investigations and to stymie opposition. The White House has called climate change research a ‘waste.’ However, even the commander and chief cannot circumvent the fact that climate research is required by law.
He may not be indictable while in office but his criminal malfeasance is grounds for impeachment. The facts may also encourage some of the stubborn minority that continue to support him to come to terms with reality.
The powers of legislators are considerable, however, they are only as good as the lawmakers who craft them. Right now both chambers have a Republican majority and this has led to the passage of legislation that is often referred to as the Tax Scam.
Republicans are on the wrong side of both history and science. As explained by a supreme court ruling in Columbia, the environment is of paramount importance. “Without a healthy environment, subjects of law and living beings in general will not be able to survive, let alone safeguard those rights for our children or for future generations,” a Columbian Supreme Court judges said.
* The emolument clause of the Constitution can be found in Article I, Section 9. An “emolument” refers to compensation for a service or labor, ie foreign payments to Trump-owned businesses like his DC hotel.
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