A Pattern of Ruling Against Mother Nature: Wildlife Species Cases Decided by Justice Kavanaugh

William Snape, American University Washington College of Law


Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as the 114th individual to serve on the United States Supreme Court on October 6, 2018, following perhaps the most acrimonious Senate debate and vote in history. Before this nomination to be an associate justice, Justice Kavanaugh served on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for twelve years. Although many progressive and citizen interest groups have expressed concern or objection over the nomination - including environmental groups concerned about a wide range of issues from climate change and toxic pollutants to safe drinking water and scientific integrity - no systematic analysis of his D.C. Circuit decisions has been done for wildlife conservation. The federal laws of wildlife protection - including endangered species, migratory bird, and marine mammal statutes - raise important and poignant questions about the human relationship with the natural world, and about the rule of law generally. Because wildlife is generally not owned by any human until lawfully taken into possession, society's treatment of wildlife reveals not only our shared values outside the modern market system, but also our compassion for other sentient beings.