Supreme Court Shows Interest In Hearing A Major Climate Change Case That Could Be A ‘Nightmare’ For Liberals

By: May Man Published: Jun 17, 2024

The Supreme Court showed interest this week in considering a challenge from Hawaii against major oil companies, seeking to hold them accountable for climate change. Some Democrats suggest the court is biased in favor of the fossil fuel industry.

On Monday, the Supreme Court asked the Justice Department for input on a petition regarding a lawsuit filed by the City of Honolulu against companies like Sunoco, Exxon, and Chevron.

Honolulu Fights

The lawsuit claims these companies’ products contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming without adequately warning consumers of the risks.

aerial view of Waikiki, Honolulu

Source: Wirestock, Freepik

Honolulu is using state laws on public nuisance and trespass, demanding billions in damages to address climate-related impacts such as extreme weather, sea level rise, heat waves, and flooding.

SCOTUS Likely to Hear the Case

Although no deadline was set for the Justice Department’s input, the Supreme Court’s request indicates a strong possibility that it will hear the case.

The U.S. Supreme Court building.

Pacamah/Wikimedia Commons

The energy companies had previously appealed to the Hawaii Supreme Court, arguing that federal law prevents individual states from setting energy policies for all states.

Aloha Spirit

However, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled the case should proceed to trial. One justice noted that “the Aloha Spirit inspires constitutional interpretation.”

Aliʻiolani Hale in Honolulu with statue of King Kamehameha

Source: MPSharwood, Wikimedia

Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr. of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, representing Chevron, told Fox News Digital, “It is important for the U.S. Supreme Court to grant review. The Hawaii Supreme Court’s decision flatly contradicts U.S. Supreme Court precedent and federal circuit court decisions, including the Second Circuit which held in dismissing New York City’s similar lawsuit, ‘such a sprawling case is simply beyond the limits of state law.’”

“Greed and entitlement”

Boutrous also argued that “these meritless state and local lawsuits violate the federal constitution and interfere with federal energy policy.” Some Democrats and liberal advocates have preemptively criticized the court.

A photograph of several cars getting gas at a Chevron station

Source: iStock

Last week, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, posted on X, “[t]his captured Court’s delays of and interference in fossil fuel emissions regulations have already saved the polluters hundreds of billions — way more than they spent to capture it. But there is no end to fossil fuel polluters’ greed and entitlement.”

Evading Legal Accountability

Lisa Graves, executive director of the left-wing watchdog group True North Research, told Rolling Stone that fossil fuel companies’ “efforts to evade legal accountability are being aided by… the very same groups that helped the majority of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court get their seats on the bench.”

A tree and the American flag on the side of the Supreme Court building.

Source: Bill Mason/Unsplash

The Federalist Society, a conservative legal group, has discussed the case in seminars and journal articles, advocating for the Supreme Court to take it up. The society has recommended justices and judges to Republican administrations across the country.


Damage in Honolulu

Fox News Digital previously reported that the Hawaii litigation has been supported by liberal dark money groups and legal partners.

Waikiki buildings and beach in Hawaii

Source: Wirestock, Freepik

Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, in his opinion rejecting the energy companies’ arguments, wrote, “Defendants knew of the dangers of using their fossil fuel products, ‘knowingly concealed and misrepresented the climate impacts of their fossil fuel products,’ and engaged in ‘sophisticated disinformation campaigns to cast doubt on the science, causes, and effects of global warming,’ causing increased fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, which then caused property and infrastructure damage in Honolulu.”


Education for Judges on Climate Change Litigation

Fox News Digital also reported that Recktenwald disclosed in May that he presented a course in collaboration with the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), a judicial advocacy organization funded by left-wing nonprofits.

A climate change protesters holding up a sign that says SOS

Source: Freepik

According to ELI, the Climate Judiciary Project aims to educate judges on handling climate change litigation.


Accusations of Dark-Money

Sher Edling, LLP, the firm representing Hawaii at the Supreme Court, works on numerous climate-nuisance cases for cities and states across the country.

A person handing another a ten-dollar bill.

Source: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

The Daily Caller reported that the firm received $2.5 million in 2022 from The New Venture Fund, associated with the liberal dark-money firm Arabella Advisors. Sher Edling, LLP and ELI have also shared personnel.


Threat to Consumers

In February, Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, revealed that former Biden administration official Ann Carlson consulted for Sher Edling on climate litigation while serving on ELI’s board.

An image of an American pumping gas at their local station

Source: Wikimedia

O.H. Skinner, executive director of the Alliance for Consumers, told Fox News Digital, “These cases represent a coordinated, dark-money-fueled threat to everyday consumers. The cases, commentators, law firms, and state court judges are all funded, supported, and trained by left-wing dark money.” He added that figures like Sheldon Whitehouse criticize dark money while supporting such lawsuits.


Nightmare for Liberals

Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network, told Fox News Digital, “Left-wing dark money groups such as the Climate Judiciary Project are indoctrinating judges all across the country with their far-left climate change propaganda.”

An interior look at chairs inside the Supreme Court.

Source: Jackie Hope/Unsplash

“The possibility that the Supreme Court would hear this case is a nightmare for these groups because this Court cares about constitutional tenets like federalism rather than left-wing policy goals.”


Possible Hearing This Summer

The Supreme Court could decide to hear the case, Sunoco v. Honolulu.

Exterior of the US Supreme Court at dusk

Source: Wikipedia

This could take place as early as this summer.