The Environmental Opinions of Judge Samuel Alito

RS22359 -- The Environmental Opinions of Judge Samuel Alito

January 6, 2006


The nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr., to serve on the Supreme Court has prompted close scrutiny of his judicial opinions during 15 years as an appellate judge. A review of the 34 opinions in environmental cases in which Judge Alito participated generally reveals careful reasoning based on straightforward readings of statutes or regulations, without broad philosophical assertions. At the same time, a small number of his opinions arguably suggest endorsement of larger jurisprudential principles that may present hurdles to environmental plaintiffs (through narrow interpretation of a constitutional standing requirement), government enforcement (through stringent evidentiary requirements), and congressional legislating (through a narrow reading of the Commerce Clause).