In California, U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins has dismissed the lawsuit brought by the state against six automakers for being responsible for global warming. Attorney General Bill Lockyer brought the suit and his successor, Jerry Brown, continued it.
Jenkins’ primary concern was the difficulty of sorting through what he called “a thicket” of issues that are best left to the political and scientific arena. In the ruling, Jenkins pointed out that the federal courts are ill-equipped to evaluate how much of a factor auto emissions may be in global warming.
“The court is left without guidance in determining what is an unreasonable contribution to the sum of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere,” the judge said, ” or in determining who should bear the costs associated with global climate change”
And here’s a quote reported in Reuters:
“The Court finds that injecting itself into the global warming thicket at this juncture would require an initial policy determination of the type reserved for the political branches of government,” Jenkins wrote in approving the automakers’ motion to dismiss the case.
Astonishing. A judge admitting that he is not the sole arbiter of world events, showing humility, admitting he is not also an automotive engineer or climatologist. Perhaps we only hear about the exceptions, but how reassuring to find a judge who allows issues like global warming to be left to the political process, the process that balances human needs and economic costs, and who does not believe that the court’s proper role is to enact some environmental millenarianism.
Perhaps a judge in Vermont could learn something from Judge Jenkins.
UPDATE (10:45 a.m.): Since you ask, Judge Jenkins was appointed by President Clinton.
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