In the BP PLC v Baltimore Mayor and Councilor, No. 19-1189, the fossil fuel companies sought a full review of the issues in the decision to take the case to a state court. The city called for a strict interpretation of the rules of appeal so that the case could be heard in state courts. The majority of the courts ruled that the appeals court should not be unduly restricted in examining questions.
The lone dissident Judge Sonia Sotomayor said fossil fuel companies had used what amounts to procedural dexterity to bypass the normal limits of review for an appeal decision. The new decision, she warned, would open the federal appeals process to the art of gaming and allow the parties to make “almost frivolous arguments” to open a back door to the appeal.
Judge Gorsuch denied such concerns, saying the legislature can address any issues that arise. “Congress can of course revise its work at any time,” he wrote. “But this forum, not this one, is the place for such legislation.”
Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. did not participate in the decision; He owns shares in companies involved in the case. Proponents of the plaintiffs in this and similar cases have suggested that Justice Amy Coney Barrett should retire over family ties to the oil industry. Your vote with the 7-1 majority did not affect the outcome of Monday’s decision.
Sara Gross, director of affirmative litigation in Baltimore in the city’s legal department, said in a statement, “While this is not the outcome we want, we are fully confident that the city will prevail if the remaining questions will be examined by the city council of appeals court. “
Phil Goldberg, special adviser to the Manufacturers’ Accountability Project, an industry-friendly group, said in a statement that the decision “should stop these efforts by Baltimore and other communities to circumvent federal law and undermine national efforts to combat climate change through broad public policy , Innovation and collaboration. “Local courts are not the right place to solve“ this important global challenge ”.
In their contradiction, Justice Sotomayor brought their reasoning back to the city and its problems. The court, she said, opens up new avenues for appeal and delay. “In the meantime,” she wrote, “Baltimore, which has waited nearly three years for litigation to begin, will have to wait again.”