By now, we’re all aware the Supreme Court will soon likely overturn Roe v. Wade, decimating abortion access for approximately half of U.S. women.
But there’s another case with massive implications for our freedom.
No, I’m not talking about Carson v. Makin, which the court just struck down on Tuesday, allowing for more expansion of voucher policies that provide public money for private and religious education. (That’s a huge deal too.)
I’m talking about West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency—and it’s really, really scary.
The New York Times writes that the case is a “product of a coordinated, multiyear strategy by Republican attorneys general, conservative legal activists and their funders, several with ties to the oil and coal industries, to use the judicial system to rewrite environmental law, weakening the executive branch’s ability to tackle global warming.”
If the court does what it’s expected to do, the ruling will severely limit the federal government’s authority to reduce carbon dioxide from power plants.
But that’s not the half of it.
Remember when Trump’s right-hand man Steve Bannon said that the administration’s goal was the “deconstruction of the administrative state?”
As the Times documents, conservatives are ultimately after something much broader and deeper than just protecting the oil and coal industry’s right to pollute the air. They want to “overturn the legal doctrine by which Congress has delegated authority to federal agencies to regulate the environment, health care, workplace safety, telecommunications, the financial sector and more.”
This is why it’s important that when we think and talk about privatization, we include deregulation, the erosion of our ability, as a public, to rein in corporate power.
Corporations exist to make increasing amounts of profit for their executives and shareholders. We shouldn’t expect Chevron to care about the environment or Amazon to care about worker rights or Wells Fargo to care whether people are being crushed by mountains of debt.
That’s the government’s job—because our public institutions, unlike private corporations, represent all of us, not just the wealthy few.
The court, as it’s currently constructed, will very likely continue to make that job harder. We must continue to fight and argue full-throatedly for the value of public.
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Photo by Safa Hovinen.