Far-Right Republican Groups Pressure Supreme Court to Protect Fossil Fuel Companies from Climate Lawsuits

A significant and unprecedented campaign has been launched by far-right groups to pressure the U.S. Supreme Court into shielding fossil fuel companies from lawsuits that could cost them billions of dollars. Some of these groups are tied to Leonard Leo, a key figure in establishing the conservative majority in the Supreme Court and connected to Chevron, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Source: Worldmatrix

Cities like Honolulu are among 40 municipalities suing major oil companies, accusing them of hiding the dangers of fossil fuels for decades. These lawsuits aim to hold these companies financially accountable for climate damages. In October, the Hawaii Supreme Court allowed the case to go to trial, but in February, oil companies petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review this decision, arguing that emissions are a federal issue that shouldn’t be handled by state courts.

Source: US Government

The U.S. Supreme Court justices met on Thursday to consider whether to take up the fossil fuel companies’ request. If they agree, it could lead to the dismissal of numerous climate-related lawsuits against these companies, a significant victory for the defendants seeking to limit their liability for the climate crisis. Legal experts note that the Supreme Court typically wouldn’t consider such cases unless influenced by external pressure.

Source: Center for Climate Integrity

Kert Davies, director at the Center for Climate Integrity, stated that the court wouldn’t usually see this issue as important unless someone highlighted its significance. Recently, conservatives have been campaigning to convince the court to take the case, publishing opinion pieces in major media outlets like Bloomberg, The Hill, The Wall Street Journal, and the National Review.

Source: Worldmatrix

Patrick Parenteau, a professor at Vermont Law School, pointed out the unprecedented nature of this political campaign aimed at influencing the court. In recent weeks, conservative voices have actively pushed the Supreme Court to consider the petition through various media platforms.

Source: Worldmatrix

Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), argued in the National Review that liberal groups are attempting to manipulate the law with a radical climate agenda, hence the need for Supreme Court intervention. JCN, now known as the Concord Fund, is part of Leonard Leo’s network.

Source: AFC

Another organization tied to Leo, the Alliance for Consumers, has been running ads supporting the same arguments. Additionally, 20 Republican state attorneys general have filed briefs supporting the oil companies’ petition. These attorneys general are part of a group funded by Leo’s Concord Fund.

Source: WorldMatrix

George Mason University, which has received significant donations brokered by Leo and from fossil fuel interests, has also advocated for the oil companies’ position. This network of influence aims to bring the right cases to the Supreme Court to shape favorable outcomes for their interests.

Source: Worldmatrix

Thousands of petitions are filed with the Supreme Court annually, with only a few getting reviewed. Legal experts argue that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction over the Honolulu case since there’s no final judgment yet.

Source: Worldmatrix

The political campaign might backfire, as Chief Justice John Roberts is concerned about maintaining the Supreme Court’s integrity. The justices could either grant the petition, which would be bad for climate advocates, ask for the solicitor general’s opinion, delaying the case, or deny the petition, which would be a win for those supporting the lawsuits.