Tuesday, the Supreme Court handed a small victory to the Obama administration, ruling 6 to 2 to uphold the EPA’s authority to regulate coal pollution that crosses state lines.
The two dissenting votes were from Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. They are not the brightest jurists on the court, but in their dissenting opinion, they made what some legal scholars are calling “hugely embarrassing”, “epic”, a “cringeworthy blunder”, and a “mind-blowing misstatement of a basic fact”.
In the dissent, Scalia wrote “This is not the first time EPA has sought to convert the Clean Air Act into a mandate for cost-effective regulation. Whitman v. American Trucking Assns., Inc., 531 U. S. 457 (2001), confronted EPA’s contention that it could consider costs in setting [National Ambient Air Quality Standards].”
There is just one problem. The 2001 case they reference was exactly the opposite. The EPA refused to consider costs against health benefits, while the trucking industry was trying to force them to do just that. The Supreme Court ruled 9 to 0 in favor of the EPA.
Now here’s the ironic part. The author of that 2001 ruling was Scalia. He not only completely mischaracterized a Supreme Court decision (a bad mistake in itself), it was a unanimous decision that Scalia himself wrote.
I know it is the “highest court in the land”, but what drugs was he on?
[Note that on Wednesday, the Supreme Court updated and corrected Scalia’s opinion. But with one of his main arguments against the case gone, why did he still feel the need to dissent?]