Supreme Court decisions on EPA, death penalty make waves

The Supreme Court decisions today reveal exactly where the highest court in the United States stands on essentially any issue. The first ruling came as the Supreme Court ruled against regulation of power plants across the U.S. The ruling came with swift verbiage from Justice Antonin Scalia, which accompanied the 5-4 decision.

The premise of Scalia’s ruling was simple: Before the Obama Administration could make any massive leaps in terms of legislation, which would regulate power plants across the U.S., they should have first carefully evaluated the cost-effectiveness of these plans. The Supreme Court found that the regulation would cost upwards of $9.6 billion, which would be covered by the industry itself, while rewarding them with just $4-6 million in financial benefit.


Judge Judith W. Rogers wrote for the “E.P.A. to focus its ‘appropriate and necessary’ determination on factors relating to public health hazards, and not industry’s objections that emission controls are costly, properly puts the horse before the cart.” Essentially, we’re entering a stage of the game where the Supreme Court ruled on behalf of the industry, but the regulation would have swiftly guaranteed a reduction of things as simple as workforce.

The second Supreme Court decision, which received its major bump today came in the case over the lethal injection drug midazolam. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the decision, pointing out that, “Holding that the 8th Amendment demands the elimination of essentially all risk of pain would effectively outlaw the death penalty altogether.” The greater debate that this decision will spur is the conversation about the death penalty moving forward.

The Supreme Court also established in their ruling that there wasn’t a worthy alternative put forward, and furthermore that the was an overwhelming failure to establish “pain,” which many used as significant argument against the death penalty. The shortcomings of the dissent argument in this instance are good examples of what needs to change moving forward – if we’re going to talk about changing things like regulation, or harsh punishments handed down by our criminal justice system.

At the end of the day, this is a matter of finding better solutions before we take issues like this to the Supreme Court. If there were a better option on the table for the death penalty, or for regulation of power plants, then both of these decisions would have been handed out differently. These decisions wouldn’t have landed against those in favor of changing both the way we regulate power plants, as well as the way we handle the death penalty here in the U.S.

This is overwhelming proof that simply eliminating something, or failing to address one portion of an issue, will only hurt the cause you’re trying to address. If change is what you’re looking for, then change should be sought out, instead of merely working to eliminate, or take something away without understanding both sides in terms of benefit, and side-effect.