Environmental Law in the Supreme Court Discussion Series: Lessons for Progressive Cause Litigants

Throughout March and April, the Harvard Environmental Law Society hosted a discussion series focused on specific case studies of major environmental Supreme Court victories. The talks were presented by the attorneys who argued those cases and included academic analyses on general trends in environmental Supreme Court litigation.

A big thanks to our co-sponsors, the Dean of Students office, and the Milbank Fund for allowing us to put on this enlightening and successful series! ELS hopes to continue to bring HLS such high quality environmental speakers in the years to come.

University of Cincinnati College of Law Professor Bradford Mank, an expert on environmental plaintiffs’ standing under Article III of the constitution, presented a lunch-time talk on how the Supreme Court’s standing decisions in environmental law cases have impacted all statutory beneficiaries’ ability to bring grievances before federal courts. With standing such an important issue in environmental law, and unusually accessible to non-experts as well, the talk drew a big crowd!

Boston College Law School’s Zygmunt Plater treated us to a lunch-time analysis of the landmark Endangered Species Act victory, TVA v. Hill. Plater, who argued the case before the Supreme Court, gave a lively presentation about progressive litigants’ need to win both in the Supreme Court and in the court of public opinion to secure lasting change. And he made us all covet his super-stylish vintage “Save the Snail Darter” tee.

Since April 2, 2012 was the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, Massachusetts Appeals Court Justice Jim Milkey recounted his experience as lead advocate in the greatest environmental victory in the Supreme Court. The event focused on the bold and controversial strategy choices that led a coalition of states and environmental groups to seek certiorari on the challenge in the first place.

HLS’s own Professor Richard Lazarus delivered a dinner talk on “Why Environmental Supreme Court Litigation Matters to Progressives.” A new, and already beloved, professor at HLS, Lazarus drew a huge crowd and was a hit with students, faculty, and special guests alike! The informal reception that followed allowed us all time to chat with Professor Lazarus, network with new friends, and enjoy a well-deserved end of the year drink!

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