Biden says Judge Jackson's swearing in is a step forward for the nation
From CNN's Sam Fossum
President Joe Biden in a written statement praised Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's historic swearing in as the first Black female Justice of the Supreme Court, calling it a "profound step forward."
"Her historic swearing in today represents a profound step forward for our nation, for all the young, Black girls who now see themselves reflected on our highest court, and for all of us as Americans," Biden said in the written statement.
Biden also thanked retiring Justice Stephen Breyer for "his many years of exemplary service."
5:35 p.m. ET, June 30, 2022
Justice Jackson made history today as the Supreme Court released rulings on 2 big cases. Catch up here
From CNN staff
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the newest member of the Supreme Court on Thursday, becoming the first Black woman to serve on the nation's highest court.
She replaces former Justice Stephen Breyer, who retired from the bench at noon ET.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court released decisions on two significant cases concerning the environment and immigration as it finished its term.
Jackson, 51, joins the court as its 116th member amid a time of heightened scrutiny of the court over recent decisions and the American public’s low confidence in the Supreme Court.
“With a full heart, I accept the solemn responsibility of supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States and administering justice without fear or favor, so help me God. I am truly grateful to be part of the promise of our great Nation,” Jackson said in a statement.
During her confirmation hearings earlier this year, she vowed to be fair and impartial as justice in deciding the law. “I am standing on the shoulders of my own role models," she said during a White House event marking her historic confirmation.
Read more about her background here and watch the moment she was sworn in here.
In addition, the court cut back agency authority in general invoking the so-called “major questions” doctrine – a ruling that will impact the federal government’s authority to regulate in other areas of climate policy, as well as regulation of the internet and worker safety.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the conservative majority, with the three liberal justices dissenting. Roberts said that “our precedent counsels skepticism toward EPA’s claim” that the law “empowers it to devise carbon emissions caps based on a generation shifting approach.”
Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the dissenters, sounded the alarm about global warming and said that the court’s decision “strips” the EPA of the “power Congress gave it to respond to ‘the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.’”
“I cannot think of many things more frightening,” she said.
The Supreme Court’s decision is a major victory for the Biden immigration agenda as the administration has suffered several losses in lower courts in its efforts to reverse Trump’s hardline immigration policies.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said that the relevant immigration statute “plainly confers a discretionary authority to return aliens to Mexico during the pendency of their immigration proceedings.”
“The use of the word ‘may” in” the law question, Roberts wrote, “makes clear that contiguous-territory return is a tool that the (DHS) Secretary ‘has the authority, but not the duty,’ to use.”
Roberts was joined by the liberal justices and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, with Kavanaugh also filing a concurring opinion. Justices Samuel Alito and Amy Coney Barrett wrote dissenting opinions, joined by the other dissenters.
Additionally, the Supreme Court on Thursday sent three abortion-related cases back down to lower courts to be reconsidered now that the court has overturned Roe v. Wade, ending constitutional protections to obtain an abortion. The move reflects the dramatically changed legal landscape around abortion after the new Supreme Court ruling issued last week in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
On the very first day of the term, Jackson will take the seat reserved for the court's junior-most justice and hear a case that could limit the federal government's jurisdiction over wetlands protected under the Clean Water Act.
The next day, they will hear a redistricting case out of Alabama and explore the contours of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that bars voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race.
The Supreme Court also agreed today to hear a dispute over redistricting in North Carolina, a case that could have major implications for voting rights across the country and fundamentally change the landscape of election law.
CNN's Ariane de Vogue, Tierney Sneed, Priscilla Alvarez, Ella Nilsen and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed reporting to this post.
4:58 p.m. ET, June 30, 2022
Scientist: EPA ruling based on "misconception that we have to choose between the environment or the economy"
From CNN’s Rachel Ramirez
Now is the time to be “doubling down on our [climate] solutions and accelerating the policies that enable them," according to Katharine Hayhoe, chief scientist at the Nature Conservancy and professor at Texas Tech University.
In his first few months in office, President Biden laid out plans vowing to do just that, and more recently set a goal to reach “100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035” as well as a “net-zero emissions economy by no later than 2050.”
But Hayhoe said Thursday’s Supreme Court decision makes this ambitious goal “immeasurably more difficult to achieve,” against the backdrop of surging gas prices as well as unprecedented weather events.
“Rulings like this are based on the misconception that we have to choose between the environment or the economy, people or the planet,” Hayhoe told CNN. “But the reality is, neither people nor the economy can float around in outer space without the resources this planet provides.”
“It doesn't need us,” she said. “We need it.”
4:24 p.m. ET, June 30, 2022
Climate scientists are speaking out after SCOTUS EPA ruling
From CNN's Angela Fritz
Climate scientists are speaking out following Thursday's Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia v. EPA, highlighting the potential harmful impacts it may have.
Here's what a few scientists have said in statements to CNN:
Michael E. Mann, climate scientist and director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University:
“Carbon emissions constitute a pollutant that threatens all of us through the unprecedented changes in Earth’s climate it is causing. That was the belief of former Republican president George W Bush and his Republican EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman. That interpretation was confirmed by the Supreme Court. The Bush/Trump-appointed right wing Supreme Court justices who currently control the Supreme Court have already been roundly criticized for promoting the very sort of judicial activism they once railed against. They have removed fundamental rights — to privacy, to safety, and now, to a livable planet."
Kristina Dahl, principle climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists:
“Failing to regulate heat-trapping emissions will harm people and ecosystems worldwide. We’re already dangerously behind what the science shows is necessary, and the court’s majority has made solving the problem much more difficult. It could also set a dangerous precedent that limits the ability of federal agencies to incorporate the latest science into many regulations.”
Daniel Swain, climate scientist at the University of California at Los Angeles:
“Regulating greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector, and point-source emitters like power plants in particular, is arguably the "lowest hanging fruit" in mitigating climate change — emissions reductions from other sectors are more complicated. If we can't make rapid progress on the easiest aspects of emissions reductions in the short term, that does not bode well for reaching any number of climate targets in the coming decades.”
In a media statement, Johanna Chao Kreilick, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, wrote:
“EPA has no choice. It must make do with the authority it retains to quickly advance as robust a set of power plant standards as it can. However, climate action cannot stop there. Congress must expeditiously enact robust and equitable clean energy and climate legislation. As the mounting toll borne by communities across the country and around the world makes clear, climate change is here, today, and there’s no time left to waste.”
4:17 p.m. ET, June 30, 2022
A look at Ketanji Brown Jackson's journey to the Supreme Court
From CNN's Chandelis Duster and Ariane de Vogue
Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in Thursday as an associate justice to the United States Supreme Court, making history as the first Black woman on the highest court in the nation.
"With a full heart, I accept the solemn responsibility of supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States and administering justice without fear or favor, so help me God. I am truly grateful to be part of the promise of our great Nation," Jackson said in a statement.
Born in Washington, DC, on Sept. 14, 1970, Jacksonwas raised in Miami, where she attended high school and participated in debate tournaments. Her love for debate led to her Harvard University, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1992 and cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1996. She was also supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review.
After college, the Harvard Law graduate not only clerked for now-retired Justice Stephen Breyer but also Judge Bruce M. Selya, a federal judge in Massachusetts, and US District Judge Patti Saris in Massachusetts. She also worked as an assistant special counsel for the United States Sentencing Commission from 2003-2005 before becoming an assistant federal public defender and later vice chair and commissioner of the commission. In 2013, she was confirmed a United States District Judge under then-President Barack Obama before being confirmed a judge for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 2021.
As a judge in DC —where some of the most politically charged cases are filed — Jackson issued notable rulings touching on Congress' ability to investigate the White House. As a district court judge, she wrote a 2019 opinion siding with House lawmakers who sought the testimony of then-White House counsel Don McGahn. Last year, she was on the unanimous circuit panel that ordered disclosure of certain Trump White House documents to the House Jan. 6 committee.
A former federal public defender, Jackson sat on lower US courts for nearly a decade. As a judge, some other notable cases she has in her record are a 2018 case brought by federal employee unions where she blocked parts of executive orders issued by then-President Donald Trump, and a case where she ruled against Trump policies that expanded the categories of non-citizens who could be subject to expedited removal procedures without being able to appear before a judge.
Jackson penned more than 500 opinions in the eight years she spent on the district court.
During her Senate confirmation hearings, Republicans heavily scrutinized Jackson's record, asserting she was too lenient in sentencing child pornography cases, in which Jackson and Democrats forcefully pushed back on the accusations. At one point during the hearings, Jackson became visibly emotional and wiped away tears as New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat, talked about her path to the nomination and the obstacles she has had to overcome.
"My parents grew up in a time in this country in which Black children and White children were not allowed to go to school together," Jackson told Booker after the senator asked what values her parents had impressed upon her. "They taught me hard work. They taught me perseverance. They taught me that anything is possible in this great country."
After her confirmation to the high court, Jackson marked her historic nomination in a speech at the White House in which she celebrated the "hope and promise" of a nation.
"I am standing on the shoulders of my own role models, generations of Americans who never had anything close to this kind of opportunity, but who got up every day and went to work believing in the promise of America. Showing others through their determination and, yes, their perseverance that good, good things can be done in this great country," Jackson said. Quoting the late poet Maya Angelou, she continued, "I do so now while bringing the gifts my ancestors gave. I am the dream and the hope of the slave."
She has emphasized her family and faith, saying her life "had been blessed beyond measure." She has been married to her husband Patrick, whom she met in college, for 25 years, and they have two children, Leila and Talia.
Environmental attorney says Supreme Court EPA decision has opened a "can of worms"
From CNN’s Ella Nilsen
Environmental law experts told CNN the Supreme Court invoking the "major questions" doctrine could be a major setback to future agency regulations, and raises a lot of questions about how it could be used in the future.
In its opinion, the court cut back agency authority by invoking the major questions doctrine — a ruling that will impact the federal government's authority to regulate in other areas of climate policy, as well as regulation of the internet and worker safety. It says that the biggest issues should be decided by Congress itself, not agencies like the EPA.
“Prior to today, the court would look at [an agency] and say ‘this decision is within your lane and expertise, and we’re going to defer to your technical decision here,’” said Jay Duffy, an attorney and expert on power plant emissions at the environmental organization Clean Air Task Force. "Today, unless the actual rule you have chosen has been clearly authorized by the Congress, you don’t have the authority to do it.”
Duffy said that as agencies craft new rules, they will have to go back to Congress to get explicit authorization, assuming Congress deems it important.
“It’s surprisingly unprincipled,” Duffy said. “It’s a can of worms that has been opened and without much guidance as to how important is important. How major is major? I think it could create a lot of problems."
Carrie Jenks, the executive director of Harvard Law School's Environmental & Energy Law Program, shared Duffy’s concern about the uncertain definition of a “major question.”
“The court is saying 'you can’t do big things without Congress speaking,' so what is a big thing?” Jenks told CNN. “This doctrine is just starting to emerge from the court. This doctrine is starting to be more defined. I think they will continue to use major questions doctrine to oppose EPA rulemakings.”
2:34 p.m. ET, June 30, 2022
EPA will move forward with power plant regulations despite SCOTUS setback, source says
From CNN's Ella Nilsen
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will still take steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants despite the Supreme Court ruling, a source familiar with the White House's thinking told reporters.
One possible option includes so-called "inside-the-fence" regulations, which include outfitting fossil fuel power plants with carbon capture systems or putting scrubbers on coal smokestacks.
The source did not commit to a specific timeline for when the EPA might announce a proposed rule to regulate power plant emissions.
The EPA has publicly committed to finalizing a power plant rule by March 2024, though it could move faster.
But the source stressed that while the court's decision took away the reach of the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, it gave the agency room to maneuver and forge ahead with emission-cutting regulations.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan has previously said that the agency will work on a strategy to combat other environmental pollutants coming from power plants, including cutting sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and coal ash waste from coal-fired power plants.
Even though those regulations deal with environmental pollution from power plants, they also have the effect of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
2:33 p.m. ET, June 30, 2022
Politicians and activist groups react to Ketanji Brown Jackson being sworn in as first Black female justice
From CNN's Sara Smart
Lawmakers and organizations shared their reactions to new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson being sworn in as the first Black female justice.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren:
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker:
Black Lives Matter:
Black Voters Matter:
2:04 p.m. ET, June 30, 2022
GOP states and coal companies got exactly what they wanted in EPA opinion, environmental attorneys say
From CNN’s Ella Nilsen
The biggest takeaway from Thursday’s Supreme Court opinion on the EPA is that the justices did exactly what GOP states and coal companies wanted them to, said Kirti Datla, an attorney for Earthjustice, a nonprofit focused on litigating climate issues.
“EPA still has leeway to do what the court didn’t [rule on] — to look at the statute and think about what it allows, and issue regulations that address this really huge source of emissions for this incredibly pressing problem,” Datla told CNN.
But Datla said more broadly that this case paves the way for Republican-led states and fossil fuel companies to challenge current and future EPA rules on planet-warming emissions.
“The court is clear that the Clean Power Plan went too far,” Datla said. “The court is much less clear on what EPA can do going forward. And everything in the opinion is going to be used as ammunition by groups that want to challenge what the Biden administration does next.”
The opinion also injects a huge amount of uncertainty over what the EPA can and can’t do, and what the Supreme Court will consider a so-called major question, said Carrie Jenks, the executive director of Harvard Law School's Environmental & Energy Law Program.
In its opinion, the court cut back agency authority by invoking the Major Questions Doctrine — a ruling that will impact the federal government's authority to regulate other areas of climate policy, as well as regulation of the internet and worker safety. It says that the biggest issues should be decided by Congress itself, not agencies like the EPA.
“The court is saying you can’t do big things without Congress speaking, so what is a big thing?” Jenks told CNN. “This doctrine is just starting to emerge from the court. This doctrine is starting to be more defined. I think they will continue to use Major Questions Doctrine to oppose EPA rulemakings.”