On Feb. 9, the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to the Obama administration's proposals to combat global warming by regulating emissions from coal-fired power plants.
The Supreme Court's decision was unprecedented, as the court has never accepted a request to delay a rule or regulation before review by a federal appeals court, The New York Times reports.
The court's decision was split 5-4, with the four more liberal justices of the court dissenting to a delay of the rule. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear arguments from opponents to the rule in 29 states on June 2.
While the Supreme Court needs to carefully consider the arguments made on each side of this issue, one factor stands beyond the immediate scope of U.S. law which justices need to take into account: the fact that the rule ordering curtailed emissions from coal-fired power plants is part of the U.N. agreement made in Paris in December 2015.
Delaying or abolishing the rule would more or less negate the entire purpose of the Paris talks. Although some still feel that dealing with climate change is chasing a mirage and a waste of time, representatives of the nations present for the agreement were there because climate change is seen as a global threat. If other nations see the U.S. is not holding up its end of the agreement, it could cause other nations to follow suit.
The other issue is that the application of the new rule would in all likelihood take at least two years, and it provides states with the time to do so, CNN reports.
The Supreme Court seems to have acted more hastily than many people would have liked, and the criticisms of the court's decision are valid. Opponents of the rule will have their chance in June to argue before the Court of Appeals about why the rule should not merely be delayed, but thrown out.
The Supreme Court's premature reaction to the Court of Appeals' decision to hear arguments, rather than to delay the rule, suggests the five justices who issued the stay are worried about its impact.
Ultimately, the court needs to consider arguments carefully, as it is a rule that will greatly impact the lives and livelihoods of many Americans in different ways. The court should also be mindful of the effects a delay or abolition of the rule would have on other nations that signed the Paris Agreement.