Laurence Tribe Fights Climate Case Against Star Pupil From Harvard, President Obama

Apr 07, 2015 · 712 comments
Rocco (ca.)
This is not liberal vs. conservative - this is literally Life or Death. Fossil Fuel emissions are destroying the planet. We are in crisis. The EPA must regulate because a Congress bought and paid for by Oil, Coal and Wall Street will not.
Tribe's defense of the Coal industry is indefensible.
Tarajunky (SLC, UT)
I'm more concerned that EPA head Gina McCarthy testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee that these new CO2 regulations are not about pollution control.

If the EPA itself admits that CO2 isn't a pollutant, why should they be allowed to reshape our entire economy to satisfy a pet issue they think might possibly be important?
steve (nj)
This is quite beautiful. -And by "quite", I mean enough to make me dance a little.
Ramona (FL)
Professor Tribe's motives are obviously financial. What a shame he's been corrupted by money. He's no better than that 3% of scientists paid by Big Oil to claim that there's no climate change.
Thinker (Northern California)
Tribe is not saying he likes coal companies, or thinks they should spew more pollutants into the atmosphere.

He's simply saying that (1) laws are for legislatures to adopt; and (2) while it's OK for laws to leave some gaps to be filled in by regulations issued by the administrative agency designated to administer the statute, those agencies can't enact new or different laws just by calling their pronouncements "regulations."

He's not even saying, necessarily, that the EPA has acted unconstitutionally here. He thinks the Clean Air Act doesn't authorize the EPA to issue the regulations in question. If the Court agrees, it need not reach any Constitutional question. Only if the Court instead concludes that the CAA does authorize the regulations in question does the Court have to turn to the question of whether the EPA's regulations amount to "law making" -- a Constitutional violation even if the CAA does authorize them.

Two extreme examples may clarify this, First, suppose the CAA said: "The EPA may not adopt regulations relating in any way to carbon dioxide." Most would agree the EPA had violated the CAA by adopting regulations relating to carbon dioxide. Second, suppose the CAA said: "The EPA may adopt any and all regulations it believes will improve the quality of the air we breathe." In that event, pretty much any EPA regulation would be OK under the CAA, but a regulation prohibiting, say, the launching of space shuttles might amount to unconstitutional "law making."
Air Marshal of Bloviana (Over the Fruited Plain)
LHT failed to appreciate what an anti colonialist he had in his academic nova. He likes to toy with FDRism and Obama? He would better Fidel if America surrenders the slightest opportunity. Thank God he is being monitored.
DavidC (Toronto, Canada)
I am deeply concerned about the environmental catastrophe that will unfold if we can't dramatically reduce our CO2 emissions. And I hate coal just as much as the next sentient creature. But the ad hominem angle of this article really sidetracks an intelligent discussion of the environmental and legal issues at stake. These are too important to be subsumed in a breathless, moralizing parable about a famous former student, a wayward professor, and the petty social comeuppance that awaits on the liberal cocktail circuit. Please leave the character assassination of opposing counsel to Rolling Stone and local rags and assign stories on this topic to journalists specializing in the constitutional law and environmental regulation beats who can write about the merits of what is at issue in this case.
Stephen A Weiss (Stevenson Washington)
The shock and outrage expressed by so many former students and proponents of Mr. Obama's use of executive power to his understanding of the authority he has constitutionally is simply because the truth is he has gone "a bridge too far".

He doesn't have the authority he believes he does and he is either severely misguided or attempting to exercise powers that he doesn't have, knows he doesn't have and simply wants to see if anyone has the courage to challenge him on it.

Mr. Tribe arguing against Mr. Obama's attempts are exactly that challenge and they are based in sound understanding of the constitution and the impropriety of the president's actions.
Reader617 (Massachusetts)
Professor Tribe's own disclosure form on his Harvard faculty webpage indicates that he was retained last summer as "counsel" for Peabody to handle a couple of different anti-regulatory matters in opposition to the EPA, one of which does not even involve any constitutional law issues. There is nothing wrong with entering into a relationship of paid legal counsel for a client, here, Peabody, the largest coal producer in the U.S. Training lawyers zealously to represent their clients is what Professor Tribe does at Harvard Law (when not out running his small law firm on the side). But Prof. Tribe should know that one cannot be a zealous legal advocate in an attorney-client relationship and also be an "independent" "scholar" "expert" on the same matter and for the same client and at the same time. Thus, when he testified as a witness before the House Committee in favor of the coal industry's position, despite his public testimony that he was acting as his neutral scholar self, in his witness disclosure form he stated that, in fact, he "represented" Peabody coal when speaking as a witness in that same hearing. Most of us mere mortals can't both be a fiduciary agent representing another as counsel for a client, and also be an independent neutral scholar for pay, simultaneously, unless, of course, one is the iconic Professor Tribe. (Law students, do not attempt this.)
Isa Ten (CA)
“That a leading scholar of constitutional matters has identical views as officials of a coal company — that his constitutional views are the same as the views that best promote his client — there’s something odd there,” said Richard L. Revesz". Does Mr. Revesz say that no officials of a coal company may have views that are constitutional?
This whole article is based on a premise that anything that coal industry does id bad and everything that EPA does is good. Ridiculous, but that's the way the left thinks.
Joseph (Baltimore)
It's sad how many people think this is about climate change and the environment for Mr. Tribe. I don't know what his views are on climate change, but that he sees the Obama Administration usurping legislative power in the manner the EPA issued rules based on the Clean Air Act.

It bothers me that when the Constitution gets in the way of what Democrats want to do, they act like it isn't a big deal and Republicans freak out. Then when the Constitution gets in the way of what Republicans want to do they act like it's not an issue and then the Democrats freak out. The Courts are supposed to be above partisan politics, and hopefully they are.
David Taylor (norcal)
Does the environment exist within the constitution or the other way around? There are members of our society who think the environment falls within a (yes, a) god's purview and therefore can't be harmed by human action. I can't divine this gentleman's motives but he had the option, should he accept climate change theory, to just sit on the sidelines and let someone else write this brief. That's the strange part: there are hundreds of other constitutional lawyers who don't accept climate change theory that could have also written this, but he wanted to do it.

The natural physical processes of the earth continue, affected by humans, regardless of what constitutional arguments are made: it's like arguing about angles dancing on the heads of pins. The constitution exists within the environment, although we will hold off acknowledging that for as many years as possible. Certainly Tribe will have passed by then.
MT (Los Angeles)
Tribe's advocacy, especially given that he is regarded as a liberal, is worth a lot of money to Peabody. And for that money, Peabody not only bought advocacy in court, but in op-ed pages. When asked if Tribe really believes the legal position he has taken, does anybody really expect him to say, no, I'm just a highly regarded mouthpiece for my client? Tribe has every right to take on this work, and, frankly, we can't really fault him for being openly consistent with the legal position he has taken even if it doesn't truly reflect his personal views, because if he weren't, the value he provides for his client would be severely diminished.
sodium chloride (NYC)
I don't know Tribe's brief, but I do know that there is a liberal and even humanitarian argument for continuing to burn millions of tons of carbon in the atmosphere.

Over 7 billion human beings now know life on this planet, 2/3 more than in 1945. It had taken 200,000 years to reach a population of 2 billion. Suddenly there were so many more and on average, enjoying a much higher standard of life and happiness. How did that happen?

There are two two words answers.

1. United States. She did not do it alone, but it would not have happened had she not emerged from WWII dominant in every field, economic, military, technological, financial, even cultural, disseminating know how, pushing her values, directing int'l capital, putting a lid on new wars.

2. The other two-word answer is: fossil fuels. That enormous explosion of technological/scientific, commercial, and agricultural progress would have been impossible without energy to start and keep going. Virtually all of it came from fossil fuel.

However it may have affected the climate, and surely injecting all that carbon into the atmosphere must affect it, the main effect was to more than triple the number of human beings knowing life, and even the good life to a much greater degree, on all the continents, than ever before.

Since this tremendous progress is so directly attributable to fossil fuels, surely stopping that burning, and even reducing it, runs the risk of ending and even reversing that boon to human kind.
shirleyjw (Orlando)
Read "The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels".
SayNoToGMO (New England Countryside)
Continuing to burn fossil fuels will be the end of all life on this planet. Period. Climate scientists are very clear about one fact: we must not allow the global avg temperature to rise more than 2 deg C higher than pre-industrual avgs. And we are clearly on the path to 4 deg C, a death sentence for all living beings. I think your children would agree that we need to stop burning fossil fuels ASAP.
Isa Ten (CA)
You're wrong on the facts.
First, CO2 is the food for the plant life. More CO2 - more plants - more life.
Second, the empirical evidence shows that CO2-based computer models predictions for the current temperatures made 20-25 years ago were plain wrong. This debunked the whole CO2-is-the-main-reasong-for-global-warming argument. Yet, the left cannot let the facts get in the way of their story. Anything that helps them to destroy free market (aka capitalist) economy is welcome.
Brandan Malin (cambridge)
“I feel very comfortable with my relationship with Peabody,”...“Somebody wanted my help and it happened to coincide with what I believe.” Good for Tribe but I hope he can sleep at night knowing Peabody's coal and the resulting particulate matter has prematurely killed millions via stroke, heart attacks, lung cancer and childhood asthma. No one doubts the death rates. There is Tribe's "constitutional law" and then there is sanity.
Paul Getty (Colorado)
Proof of the deaths you site, pkease.
jacobi (Nevada)
"..Tribe but I hope he can sleep at night knowing Peabody's coal and the resulting particulate matter has prematurely killed millions via stroke, heart attacks, lung cancer and childhood asthma."

Millions? Perhaps you could provide the name of one and prove it?
Jeff Harris (Fairhope)
Do you have proof to back up all of those claims?
Russell W McConnell (Phoenix, AZ)
A moment in time where a scholar of the Constitution has to confront the nexus between theory and application. This is the difference between the comforts of academic contemplation and reality. Plato was honest enough to relegate these issues to perfect forms, but the ideologues of our day might finally have to entertain the idea that their perfect ideals don't exist at all in the real world.
Mr. Robin P Little (Conway, SC)

This must be about a fat paycheck for Mr. Tribe. I don't know what else could describe his interest in defending the coal industry. It will have to play out in the courts, which, I hope, ultimately disagree with Mr. Tribe's interpretation of the Constitution, although given the make-up of our Supreme Court, this is an iffy outcome.

In the end, I don't see how the natural world can survive the onslaught of an enormous, growing population of humans, many of whom are energy-hungry consumers like myself, who consume more than our fair share of our world's natural resources, and continue to demand more.

Yet, even if America and Europe completely stopped our growing demand for electricity going forward, China, India, Africa and much of the rest of the underdeveloped world will continue to demand and use coal-burning methods of generating electricity. We have no effective way of preventing the rest of the world from helping to destroy it. We can't even stop our own usage. A carbon tax is only a stop-gap measure, one which will fail in the long run as corporations buy their way out of such taxes.
Mario Goveia (Perrysburg, Ohio)
Mr. Little, the economy will take care of itself if we get you elitist, hand-wringing do-gooders, who think you know what's good for everyone else better than they do, out of the way.

Please wise up.

Socialist-style statism caused the USSR to implode, Europe to decline, India and China to reverse course and the most extreme case like N. Korea, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador and most of sub-Saharan Africa to become poor and oppressive dictatorships.
Out of Stater (Colorado)
Well, I see the right-wing energy hogs and climate change defenders are out in full wolf pack force but you have got it right. And they are just shilling for the MCConnell-led Republican corporate-inspired profit-driven position. And echoing that industry-led chorus.
Shame on Professor Tribe who has long been a personal hero to me and my family and Bravo to you for speaking up and telling the truth. The sooner the U.S. lessens its dependence on the killer coal, the better! Perhaps Prof. Tribe does not have any grandchildren?? Or never known a fellow citizen dying from Black Lung Disease.
wildcat (houston)
I've been involved with oil & gas exploration for the last 30 years.
In one way or another, republicans (my friends) in the natural gas business have been trying to kill coal for at least the last 30 years.
The anti-coal republicans try to keep it on the "down low" but every once in a while, they get called on it:
I was working in eastern Kentucky last summer and was shocked to learn the locals were rabidly anti-Obama, claiming Obama was trying to "kill coal." Huge billboards could be seen declaring "stop Obama's war on coal."
Me and my republican good old boy friends noted the locals sentiments with much amusement/glee.
No one has done more to kill coal than republican oil & gas interests out of Oklahoma and Texas. No one knows about their efforts. I wonder why?
Mario Goveia (Perrysburg, Ohio)
Nice try, wildcat, but you make no sense. The oil and gas industry are just as mush a target of the EPA as coal is.

You don't even seem to know which side you are on. It is the Democrats who are the enemies of fossil fuels under the mistaken belief that they are causing global warming.

Please wise up.
wildcat (houston)
Thanks for the sage advice. You got a lot of soul.
How old were you when your little bird brain figured out the secret to life?
jacobi (Nevada)
It appears that Mr. Tribe has become a heretic, won't be long before "progressives" start calling for his stoning.
MKM (New York)
Can't throw stones without an environmental impact statement.
mjah56 (<br/>)
Mr. Tribe isn't for sale. If so, he's the first lawyer who wasn't. lawyers are sophists and until they are asked to advocate for something that is completely odious, like pederasty, or cause in respect of which they cannot maintain objectivity because of personal scruples, they can ethically take on any client who will pay. Tribe is following the buck. More power to him. He cannot be surprised, however, that his reputation as a darling of the "left" is now being used for political purposes far beyond whatever constitutional nits he may have with the President.
msnymph (new jersey)
It's time Peabody Enrrgy stepped out of the Victorian era and entered the 21st century. Professor Tribe and Senator O'Connell would like to perpetuate an industry that does great damage to the environment and those who work in it (the residents of Kentucky for example).

Peabody would be better off thinking about ways to retool and develop alternate forms of energy and energy usage, and provide jobs that will not injure the health and well-being of those performing them.

Of course that would require imaginative thinking, risk-taking, and care for humanity and the planet, something that is apparently not possible for people entrenched in the past.

As for Professor Tribe, good luck trying to sleep at night.
Mario Goveia (Perrysburg, Ohio)
Please get a clue. This has nothing to do with "pollution" as it affects health. It has everything to do with the mistaken belief that CO2 emissions are causing global warming.
Out of Stater (Colorado)
Bravo! Well and clearly put.
Chris G (New York)
I was a student of Professor Tribe's in the late 1980s in a small seminar. It was a highlight of law school and he was a wonderful teacher. Always thoughtful, always asking us to examine both sides of an argument. I see no reason to impugn his integrity in this case. The whole tone of this article is 'how could he go over to the Dark Side?' Plenty of quotes from people on the side of Justice and Light, but not a word about the substance of Tribe's argument. Is it possible it has some merit? We'll never know from this piece. Next time, save some trees (or bytes) and simply write: Environmentalists Good. Peabody Evil. All we need is a piano player for the silent movie to cue the villain. The Times ought to be better than this.
Jon V (MN)
Isn't it interesting that that Mr. Tribe is dismissed because he "promotes an agenda".

Are we to believe that his opponents are not promoting an agenda?
Dee (Brooklyn)
So, tonight I am taking my Constitutional Law textbook authored by Tribe, and placing it in the recycling bin.

Dee, Esq.
WastingTime (DC)
Try reading it first. Just because you disagree with his personal views doesn't mean there isn't any merit to his legal arguments.
Paul Getty (Colorado)
Good idea. You don't understand the law.
SES (Washington DC)
Had Peabody Energy chosen to join other companies throughout the United States in the Clean Coal Technology & Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI), started in the 1980s in partnership with the US Department of Energy. Peabody Energy would not now have to retain Professor Tribe to defend it.

This project (CCPI) is currently reducing the carbon pollution in our atmosphere using the clean coal technologies of chemical washing, carbon capture and storage, and gasification. The results so far have reduced carbon output to levels well within the boundaries of EPA standards.

Peabody Energy could have saved itself and Laurence Tribe from the headline embarrassments both are currently experiencing. PE chose to ignore any attempts to reduce its carbon foot print.
Mario Goveia (Perrysburg, Ohio)
SES, do you even know how much CO2 there is in the atmosphere? It was 0.028% before the industrial age began and it is 0.040% now. That is an increase of 43%. In the meantime, do you know how much the earth has "warmed" according to NASA? Less than one degree Celsius over the last 134 years with no significant increase over the last 18 years.

Now, please be honest; are YOU sweating over an increase in the average GLOBAL temperature of less than one degree Celsius over 134 years?

Please wise up. Blind ideologues are the problem, not the solution.
SMB (Savannah)
What next? A tobacco company? The environment impacts the planet and the health of Americans. Children are especially harmed by pollution like this.

For whatever reason, this scholar has been bought. So have the politicians like Sen. McConnell. Maybe corporations now have physical bodies, and the Supreme Court's next obeisance to big money corporations will talk about their rights to pollute.
badger (downtown, NYC)
It does not make sense that a man of his age and rep is for sale. No matter what he thinks and how skillful he is, he can not stop the tide, the tipping point has already happened.
mtrav (Asbury Park, NJ)
this guy is always on the short list for Democrats for Supreme Court Justice; no more.
Out of Stater (Colorado)
No, that's not why. Too many Harvard types already on the SCOTUS and Obama was determined to add a Hispanic and another woman. IMHO, of course.
sjc (nyc)

After all the formalities, the arguments on n page 10 and run 3 double spaced pages. 5 minutes reading the brief -- which so few even attempted -- show there is nothing partisan in the filing.

It simply asserts that Peabody has standing, that the EPA has invented law. The original statute was clear and did not require EPA interpretation to resolve ambiguity. Go ahead and debate the arguments laid out. That's the process.

Ascribing motive to discredit Tribe is sadly yet another display of today's sad post-partisan totalitarianism. Narrative over facts, tribalism over truth.
Richard Scott (California)
Now, it's either "tribalism" or "totalitarianism" but you can't get both in the same dig....
Ed Bloom (Columbia, SC)
I asked about Lawrence Tribe's considerable moral stature and was told:

"I'm sorry my son you're too late in asking,
Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away
- from PARADISE by John Prine
EJM (Indiana)
This article perfectly illustrates what is wrong with the social nepotism found in our political system from the Ivy League club. We have a plaintiff who is a professor arguing a case in front of two of his former students that are Supreme Court justices and the defendant is a former student who is the current president. Does no one see anything wrong with that?! Regardless of whether you are liberal or conservative, essentially the connections built at one university are dictating the environmental policy for the entire country which will have an impact for better or worse for decades to come. This article is proof that politics has become too interconnected and too inbred. We need people to come from outside the system with fresh ideas, who aren't beholden to anyone. I know it is wishful thinking, but I can dream can't I? But the assembly line keeps on churning out more of the same, just like Henry Ford did. We are a country run by Model T poliricians.
A.L. Hern (Los Angeles, CA)
Why would an energy company even think of trying to enlist the services of a left-leaning scholar like Tribe? It could hardly be their first instinct, and probably not even be their last. As such, it begs the question as to who first approached whom. If it was Tribe, as seems more likely, what could his motivation have been, other than money, though he denies it?

Could there be another, more Byzantine and theatrical, explanation? Call it a flight of whimsy on my part, if you like, but given the analyses of other Constitutional scholars quoted in this article, I suppose it's remotely possible that Tribe has positioned himself as a stealth advocate, confident that his argument will fall short in court irrespective of how "dazzling" it's been extolled by his putative allies on the right, so that, when a critical case arises in another area all the praise that's recently been heaped upon him by McConnell and others will come back to haunt them.

One can only hope.
Jon V (MN)
Or he may simply believe in his position.
Thinker (Northern California)
I was trying to think of how to phrase a reply to your comment, but your own "flight of whimsy" works well enough. Your speculations that (1) Tribe sought out Peabody, rather than vice versa; and (2) Tribe secretly hopes he loses, are absurd.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
If I were anti wind turbine, I might file a lawsuit against extracting wind energy in mountain valleys along the California coastline, alleging that it contributes to the drought by slowing the inward flow of moist air from the sea. Maybe these wind turbines should be turned around and driven by solar energy to move moist air inland instead.
Paul Getty (Colorado)
You're full of a lot of hot air. Perhaps it could be used to power the CA coastline.
Eric (Massachusetts)
Anyone climate deniers or coal company executives who claim Tribe as an ally had better look more closely at his statements on climate change. He is MAINLY quibbling with means, not with the ends (sharp international cuts) that climate scientists say is necessary. Strangely though, is SOME comments he is sympathizing with how hard those cuts will hit some industries. Well yes, it will be hard, does really he think "sharp cuts" can come without someone having to abandon past practices? Should such entities be compensated for their losses? That's a fair question.
Tom Cuddy (Texas)
Science does not listen to arguments as a judge would. There is a right answer and all the money, threats of joblessness and Peabody Coal money will not change this. Contrast the approach Climate deniers use with Cheney's 1% policy on terrorism. If not for obstructionists we would be well on our way to a low carbon economy by now. It is like an apartment building burning. It might not be your apartment that is burning now, and due to other factors, your apartment might not burn. Do you evacuate your apartment while the fire is being fought? Or wait for absolute proof that this fire will engulf your apt? The absolute proof being your apartment actually burning. Few would chance this, but with Climate disaster many demand this level of certainty before acting. Actually studies have found that even if presented with conclusive evidence Climate deniers will still refuse to accept the facts. It is true that the scientific method is forever uncertain, as the best hypothesis available with the present facts may be altered with the discovery of new data. As far as I know, gravity is poorly understood. There is the general relativity concept ( ball bearings on a rubber sheet but string theory and quantum theory have proposed alternate theories, such as a weak force that is not restricted to a single dimension. Still, we have been able to do measure and do calculations with gravity since Newton. The theory behind AGW (human caused warming) is much better understood than gravity.
Russell Manning (CA)
I find Tribe having succumbed to money. If this is his "principle," our legal system is in dire trouble. Is there something in a law school that urges one to go against what he has long been applauded for, just so he may self-aggrandize his standing at the bar? Pathetic.
Jeff Harris (Fairhope)
A lawyer accepting money? I'm shocked, shocked I say!
Ben (Monterey, CA)
Prof. Tribe has every right to his views. However, by accepting money from a for-profit player in the Clean Air Act controversy to advance those views in the courts and the legislative arena, he has betrayed a fundamental precept of public service, which as an educator and policy commentator he espouses and claims as his mantle. That precept is that one does not accept pay for articulating one's personal views, nor agree to articulate them on behalf of any for-profit interest. Prof. Tribe's indiscreet behavior raises serious questions about whether his views can be taken seriously on any matter of public concern. Were I one of his students, I'd be organizing a protest against his continued tenure as a teacher.
Joseph (Baltimore)
You do realize he accepted pay every time he argued for liberal positions in front of the Courts, including in Bush v. Gore. This is not the first time he has taken money to represent someone. It seems to bother you that he is taking money to represent someone you do not like, unless you really think he was never paid for arguing liberal causes in front of the courts for clients.
GMooG (LA)
Tribe is a professor at Harvard (a private University) and a practicing attorney. He is not, and has never claimed to be, a public servant.
Out of Stater (Colorado)
Bravo! But Harvard won't do anything about it. Prof. Tribe is too famous and too excellent a scholar and citizen for them to act against him. Besides, Harvard has long been in thrall to the big money donations of the wealthy industrialists, likely dating back to the age of the Robber Barons! Same with Yale, the Bush donations and money from Barbara Bush's environmentally shameful family as well.
NI (Westchester, NY)
" He IS not for sale." He has already been sold out. A scholar and lawyer of Constitutional Law, who denies a clear and present danger from climate change denies climate because that law is not in the Constitution.Does he even know the Constitution was written 200 years ago and our wise fore-fathers left a lot of wiggle for changing times and changing peoples. The Constitution was a framework only to be filled up according to changes in human behavior and changing times and circumstance. I am sure Mr. Tribe knows that but the Greenback always wins.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
Don't blame Tribe, he's not a scientist and a lawyer's job is to argue for a paying client no matter how despicable they are.
Globe (Fairfax, Va)
Perhaps Professor Tribe is acting as an attorney representing his client, with a promise in the background that he will be nominated to the US Supreme Court? Or he is reacting to having not been nominated by the Democrats? In any case, the significance of his representations are only as credible as his arguments are sound.
Carolyn Stonecipher (Beaumont, Texas)
This article makes a great case for mandatory retirement. It is unjust that 70+ year-old folks (me, Mr. Tribe, the Kochs, Tea Partiers, etc.) decide what kind of future our planet faces when we won't be here to endure or enjoy it. Neither will we be here to spend ill-gotten wealth made at the expense of the environment and earth's future inhabitants.
GMooG (LA)
Hillary is 67 now, and would be 72 at the end of her term. But that's completely different, right?
Nancy Levit (Colorado)
So Because a close Friend or Obama's Mentor owns a Corporation --WA DC should listen to him and His Wants! I don't think so!
Ho many more Politicians Function to please their mentor's now Corporate Owners? If these Mentor's were so intelligent then why must they feel that persuasion of once students into supporting their Corporations is an responsible action, when in reality such is a simple persuasion for Corporate greed that lacks responsibility to our Environment Land Water and Health!
Buckaroo (Bogota, Colombia)
"Peabody and the government,
Got no respect for this earth,
They wanna move the indians again,
From the very land of their birth.
They wanna move Big Mountain,
and cut the coal out from under.
They don't know about sunshine,
They never listen to thunder."
-Butch Hancock
C from Atlanta (Atlanta)
So ... "a number of legal scholars and current and former members of the Obama administration say that Professor Tribe has eroded his credibility by using his platform as a scholar to promote a corporate agenda — specifically, the mining and burning of coal."

Hmm. And here I thought that Professor Tribe was representing a client as an attorney. It would appear to me that considerable social pressure is being exerted to prevent Peabody Coal from obtaining the best legal advocate by pressuring its advocate into withdrawing from the case.

In my view, that's dirty pool. The coal and electric power industry has every right to protest the validity of new EPA rules intended to put it out of business; and under our adversarial system of common law, it has every right to hire the best lawyers that they can afford, without those lawyers being defamed for taking the work.
Gus Hallin (Durango)
Instead of denying that he sold out, Professor Tribe should disclose his salary from Peabody Oil, then let us decide.
C (SF)
Tribe is not only a liberal icon but also one of history's leading Constitutional scholars. Anyone familiar with him knows he's extremely well-paid and has many other options to earn more, any time he wanted.

He knows he has nothing to lose but his reputation, and I'm not sure the $100k or whatever he's getting from Peabody is worth it to him.

Great scholars don't always see eye-to-eye with particular political parties, because they are trying to maintain fidelity to their reasoned views. I would put Tribe's recent actions in that light. Let's be reasonable, not emotional or venal.

I wouldn't put a lot of weight on other scholars' objections. New legal ideas and advancements sometimes face the criticisms within academia, often from those with burning agendas (e.g. director of the environmental program at HLS). Also, what about when people (NYT readers, most of all) are often "surprised" when Scalia votes in favor of certain personal freedoms? He might not always be consistent, but he's generally voting how he wants, not to just woo some politico.
Sherry Jones (Washington)
The US military says global warming is one of the biggest national security threats we face. Around the world cities are running out of water, crops are failing, and governments are destabilizing and collapsing under the weight of resource damage caused by fossil fuel pollution. There was a drought in Syria before the war exploded. Sao Paolo Brazil does not have enough water. Very little snow fell in the Olympics and the Sierras, and last year in my region it was six degrees warmer than average. The density of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere caused by burning fossil fuels is already beyond 400 ppm and rising because of governmental irresponsibility and rapacious corporate greed like that of Peabody Coal. 400 ppm is beyond any measure experienced during the evolution of mankind. The problems caused by pollution and global warming seem beyond the ability of even fairly organized and arguably responsible governments to deal with, such as the slow-moving disaster of uncontrolled pumping of California groundwater for big-ag profit, and with Congress controlled by Republicans there is no hope for US laws to protect us because they have decided, as a whole entire party, to remain deliberately ignorant, reckless, and irresponsible in the face of the threat of carbon pollution. That leaves EPA regulation as the only legal tool we have to prevent disaster. Let us hope that Laurence Tribe loses his esoteric and suicidal interpretation of the US Constitution.
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
The US military has never said that global warming is one of the biggest national security threats. Drought in California has nothing to do with carbon dioxide, despite the fact that liberals would like to ignore the fact that 50 years of poor Democrat policy has led to depletion of ground water. It's far easier for them to act as thought they are the guiltless victims of others.
Nyalman (New York)
Wow. Reading this comment board is very instructive. Instead of open enlightened debate on the issue of the constitutionality of the EPA's actions, the vast majority of people commenting here prefer ad hominem attacks, and character assassination directed at Mr. Tribe. Mr. Tribe is a highly respected constitutional scholar who according to his statements is an advocate here because he believes the EPA actions are constitutional overreach. Having people like Mr. Tribe advocating on behalf of constitutional principles is an important component in having a democracy based upon the rule of law. The personal attacks on him and the questioning of his motives (because he has the temerity to represent a client many find deplorable) is a sad testament on the current state of liberalism - which appears to be morphing towards a fascist, thought police mentality. And liberals claim conservatives and close minded and mean spirited ?!?!
paula (<br/>)
Many of us think the stakes are simply too high to defend a coal company in a court of law. By all means, as some have suggested, write a law review article. But some of us are a little hard pressed to worry, in this case, about "fascist thought police" when we see human civilization imperiled.
Nyalman (New York)

Everyone in our system is entitled to representation. And those that make the choice to represent should not be bullied as you feel is justified.
MRod (Corvallis, OR)
Many of us object to yet another person parlaying his government and academic background into piles of cash. That is not an ad hominem attack. That is statement of objection to a corrupt corporate-government-political system that grossly favors the interests of people, corporations, and institutions with great wealth over the needs of the vast majority of citizens. Avoiding appearances of impropriety- or in this case a appearances of being a disingenuous sell-out given his academic and political history - is sometimes necessary in order to maintain ones credibility. I would give him all respect if he worked for a nominal fee of say $100,000 or even $200,000. But the reality is that neither he nor Peabody will be disclosing his fee and it is sure to be many millions. I'd be happy to eat crow if I am wrong. Tribe's motives may be pure as the driven snow. But to me he just smells like yet another former government official and wealthy person using his influence to get ever richer with no regard to how his actions could affect others - or in this case, the future of humanity.
Thinker (Northern California)
Tribe is not arguing that coal companies are good. He's simply arguing that there are limits on the authority of a federal agency to adopt regulations to "implement" a statute approved by Congress. He thinks the EPA has exceeded its authority here – under the Clean Air Act itself (his expressly preferred basis), or under the Constitution if the Court concludes that the Clean Air Act does authorize these regulations.

Viewed that way, I doubt Tribe's position would strike many commenters as inappropriate. In a different setting – if, for example, if the federal agency involved were run by conservatives who'd adopted regulations that promoted their conservative beliefs without having authority to do so under any Congressionally-approved statute -- I suspect many of Tribe's harsh critics here would be applauding him for standing up against unelected usurpers of Congress' law-making authority.
Steve (Illinois)
I find it hypocritically ironical that those on the Left bellyaching about Tribe "selling out" to corporate interests are the same ones rendered deaf and mute about Hillary's influence-peddling donations from rich Saudi governments into the Clinton Foundation - while she was Secretary of State. No conflict there!
paula (<br/>)
No, those of us on the Left are not deaf and mute to the money Hillary receives. We are horrified by her connections to Wall Street, and disturbed by her connections to the Saudi's. Read a little deeper.

About some money, we are distressed that the Supreme Court has created a world in which nobody gets elected without vast sums of money -- to counter the Koch's and other influencers. But make no mistake, we are not happy with any of it, and some of it -- is simply outrageous.
ZThomm (Indiana)
Our air has never been cleaner. I live two miles from a coal fired plant and you would never know it but for the steam coming from the stacks.

CO2 is not a pollutant, it increases plant productivity and is beneficial and necessary for all living things on Earth. While CO2 has minimal effect on atmospheric temperatures, higher levels allow plant life to flourish under warmer temperatures, as thousands of peer-reviewed studies demonstrate. The most beneficial periods in history occurred when temperatures were a few degrees C warmer than present.

The concern for climate change should be entirely in the case of global cooling. The next period of glaciation is now overdue. Solar and oceanic conditions are trending toward a cooling phase.

Prof. Tribe's detractors do not address the constitutionality of the regulations, and ignore the evidence of the true situation with regard to climate change and the beneficial effects of CO2.
All the negative comments I have read here consist of ad hominem attacks and questioning his financial motives. The left reserves the most vitriolic attacks on liberals who don't follow the leftist script.
imagiste (currently in motion, CA)
Of course a corporation wants to define itself as legally free of downstream obligation. Paying for pollution hits the bottom line. The taxpayer knows this all too well. Mr. Tribe is arguing in support of a conspiracy of narrow and selfish effort for private gain at obvious public and environmental expense and loss of health, lifespan, clean air, water, and soil. All of nature and much of human life (of necessity) will always remain extralegal and unknowable to a corporate entity that exists only within and by abstraction. It is sad to see Mr. Tribe also so self-limiting.
Bill Chinitz (Cuddebackville NY)
Mr. Tribe fits the description that's articulated in an old folk song called the "dodger".
It has a verse that goes "
"the lawyer he's a dodger, a well known dodger
he'll meet you ,treat you, claim you for a friend
but watch out boys he's easy for to bend"
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
When liberals have no factual basis for their opinions, they argue the motivations of their opponents. The comments on this board, as well as the text of the article, clearly demonstrate that there is no legitimate legal objection to Tribe's legal analysis.
Jim (WI)
You can go through your whole career respected but disagree with the climate change agenda and you become a paid-off, senile traitor. And really? A lawyer getting paid for something that they may not believe? As is that never happened before.
jsladder (massachusetts)
Both sides have a good lawyer. What's the problem?
J. Colby (Warwick, RI)
You can split hairs and you can rationalize. In the law, you can do these things to a fair the well. Don't Mr. Tribe. Do the right thing instead. This case could be your legacy with your colleagues and the public.
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
The right thing is to defend the constitution and the separation of powers. The administration is not legally empowered to write new laws, even if their liberal followers like the new laws they are writing
Defiant (NYS) matter HOW MANY TIMES the "evidence" for Global Warming is proven to have been manipulated, misrepresented, or literally fabricated...we're STILL fighting off the Climate Kooks who want more and more tax money to create more and more "evidence" of Global Warming!

It's just ludicrous.
Stephen (RI)
Uh, where's this evidence of manipulated or fabricated data? Conservatives have smeared a bunch of scientists, but all their claims were proven to be false when the accusations were actually reviewed. Are you talking about the fake tobacco style "institutes" that the fossil fuel companies have created?

Knowing this would require actually getting your science information from somewhere besides Fox News and Breitbart though, and from your comment that's clearly not an option you've chosen.
Stacy (Manhattan)
After reading many of the comments here, I wonder how so many self-proclaimed "conservatives" (who are really not conservative at all, but rather anti-government radicals) can deceive themselves into believing that only "liberals" need clean air to breathe and a habitable planet to survive. Conservatives, apparently, will do just fine when ecological collapse precipitates agricultural, economic and political collapse across the globe. Our military is already preparing for anticipated disruptions in climate and increased conflicts. But not our conservative friends! They remind me of the swaggering British upper classes who so confidently sent their sons off to fight the Germans in the summer of 1914. Soon, they were singing another song altogether. Their way of life collapsed, never to return.
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
Liberals find it easy to confuse carbon dioxide with actual pollutants. Conservatives want to breathe clean air. The proposed EPA regulations have nothing to do with clean air, they are intended to reduce carbon dioxide production.
Azim (Englewood)
I feel that the battle should not between left and right, right and wrong, but should focus on what modern technology can do and deliver with the full support of the coal industry, here and abroad, to achieve the goal of "clean" coal. Just as the elimination or reduction of many toxic emissions or carcinogens - too numerous to list here - has proven to be an ongoing but fairly successful endeavor over the past 50 years, so should getting rid of those noxious elements specifically let loose by coal-burning be a global priority without throwing the baby out with the bath water.
I've always been a great admirer of Professor Tribe, and refuse to politicize his stand on the climate control issue as being partisan in any way. In my view, there must be a 'middle' way: On one hand, taking into account the extreme economic cost to some of the BRICS nations, notably China and India, that a wholesale attack on coal production would cause to the standard of living of their populations; on the other hand, funding massively over the next 10 years - borne by developed countries mainly - the technology of proven cleaning coal production and coal burning, so as to bring their noxious elements down to universally acceptable levels through the imposition of strict controls and supervision.
jrobinson (washington, dc)
“Were Professor Tribe’s name not attached to them, no one would take them seriously.”

Right. Because that's what the Left does to protect it's religion. They don't deal with facts; they simply smear and ridicule the person who disagrees. But they can't do this they're confused. The Left can't examine the arguments, and they can't smear one of their they sit there, short-circuiting, babbling.
david (ny)
When coal is burned, carbon dioxide [CO2] is produced and toxins in the coal like mercury are released from the coal.
While technology is not perfect much of the CO2 and toxins can be removed from the emissions.
But this costs the utilities money that they don't want to spend.
Instead of spending money litigating and paying lawyers , expend that money and effort developing better technology to trap CO2 and toxins.

The greenhouse effect from CO2 is well established.
The planet Venus has a surface temperature of about 867 F because of a runaway greenhouse effect.
Michael (Birmingham)
Laurence Tribe--following the money???
Otto Zeit (Berkeley, CA)
The money followed him. It's what happens to people with a strong reputation in their profession. Quit with the ad hominem smears, already!
Ozzie7 (Austin, Tx)
No big deal: we know what it is -- family first.

A lot of older men try to leave a chunk for the Grand Children -- nothing personal.
Andy Hain (Carmel, CA)
Even the Supreme Court has reversed itself. It may be difficult to accept, but the purpose of legal argument (which is an art form) is to sway judges and juries, who, as humans, will make mis-judgements. The goal is to win, not to "be right." In that context, it is not necessary that every word or statement be honest, correct, or even politically correct.

“He’s about to be banned from a lot of cocktail parties.” There must be a lot of boring cocktail parties.
ceilidth (Boulder, CO)
What does Tribe know about climate change? My guess is very, very little. But here's what he does know about: how to suck from the money teat that is Peabody Energy--a company famous for making money in an industry built on human death and environmental destruction. In the end, all he cares about is money.
HOUDINI (New York City)
What better way for the win-win-win to occur? Obama installs HIS man as HIS opposition and the victor knows what the enemy is planning. It is called " a double agent." Obama wins, Tribe gets rich on coal money and they use that money to fund the victorious President and his Eco Change reform. If Tribe worked on behalf of Obama, Gore and the danger facing Earth's atmosphere and threat to all living things from trees to grasshoppers and those wily humans, then I think this is perfectly reasonable.
GenoGeno (Woodbury, Ct)
Isn't it time we started a real 'War on Coal' if that is what Mr. Tribe is asking for?Shouldn't those of us who believe that burning coal is a leading contributor to climate change be yelling more?
gregjones (taiwan)
Enjoy your money Prof Tribe. It will be quite fine living in great wealth as you watch the damage your work has accomplished.
Deric (Colorado)
Famous and wealthy, but evidently not famous or wealthy enough, ol' Larry Tribe is now a hired mouthpiece for Peabody Coal. Jeez, Larry, why not just admit you're a hooker? One with bad taste in clients and no care whatever for the downstream effects of the job you're doing. As a practicing lawyer for over 40 years, I know there are some cases that I just shouldn't touch and some clients whose money will always, always be dirty.
Notafan (New Jersey)
Tribe says he is not for sale. Oh but he sure is.

If you want to prove that statement Mr. Tribe, tell the world how much you are being paid to be a Jezebel to coal and ignorance and spiting the president because you did not get your the Supreme Court nomination you have sought for 35 years.

Tell us how much it cost to buy you.
N.I. (NYC)
If I were Mr. Tribe I would sue you for defamation. Seriously, I would.
Craig (MN)
Dershowitz defends people he despises all the time.
Walt Peterson (USA)
At a House hearing last month, Mr. Tribe likened the climate change policies of Mr. Obama to “burning the Constitution.”

Light dawns on Marble Head.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
Evidently Tribe buys the nonsense that the Constitution represses the concept of common wealth. What people will do for university endowments beggars all other forms of prostitution.
Sonny Pitchumani (Manhattan, NY)
If Professor Tribe's argument is that what Obama administration is trying to do with EPA runs foul of constitution, then O cannot argue that end justifies the illegal means. Already, the coal industry in places like KY are in trouble because of cheap natural gas, and the market forces will regulate and cause the death of coal if there is a viable alternative.

If agenda-driven actions of this administration are ultra vires of the constitutional authority vested in presidency, then they must be exposed and checked. That's all.
Citizen Kane (Orange California)
Now you liberals, take a deep breath and relax....
Much of the same EXACT criticism were leveed against professor Dershowitz when he represented Von Bulow...
shirleyjw (Orlando)
It is indeed a shame that a newpaper, such as the Times, that holds itself out as a bellweather of journalism regularly publishes pieces devoid of analysis other than personal attacks, labels, stereotypes, name calling and tribalistic fanaticism. Journalistic integrity has died from its own self inflicted injuries. It is as if there is no meaning to anything other than whose side you are objective reality, no respect for facts, no intellectual curiosity. I quote from Book One of The Emperor's Handbook by Marcus Aurelius:
"My tutor taught me not to take sides in circus contests (Green or Blue, Light-Sheld or Heavy), to love hard work, to limit my desires, to rely on myself to keep my nose out of other people's affairs, and to turn a deaf ear to read books for detailed understanding and not to settle for genral summaries or accept uncritically the opinions of reviewers"
Renee (New London, CT)
"And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the green river where paradise lay?"
"Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away"

John Prine - Paradise Lyrics |
WAMIII (Massachusetts)
When I saw the mention of Peabody coal, I first thought of the great song by John Prine! Thanks for jumping on my exact thoughts! This song was totally written and taken from trips with his father to this part of the country where the father was raised. Somewhere on You Tube, John Prine vividly describes these trips as a child, and his father's shock at seeing the pristine countryside turned inside out. Each mention in the song is an actual place and memory.
Maybe John Roberts and the others are familiar with it, too?(if the case gets that far!)
Michael Thomas (Sawyer, MI)
Everyone has a price.
His clients have the dough.
Timothy c (Philadelphia)
Tribe must be getting senile if he doesn't recognize that politics are driving this controversy, not the law. The Supreme Court already ruled that the EPA had such powers, all they had to do was say climate change posed a health risk. The then director did that and it was squashed by the Bush White House. There is no overreach here, just people trying to protect their fortunes to be made with fossil fuels.
Sara G. (New York, NY)
The coal industry says that "it costs too much" to meet the Clean Air Standards. If they'd instead use the bazillions of dollars they use fighting the EPA - including lawyer's fees – and invested in cleaning up their product, perhaps they could meet the EPA standards, thus saving us and our planet.
OldGuyWhoKnowsStuff (Hogwarts)
I've been around only 68 years and spent only abut 15 of them in the Washington power games, but both are long enough to have seen this phenomenon many times: a guy works his way up in prominence and authoritativeness pulling for progress...and then THEY show up, the corporate moneybags, and all of a sudden, "it happened to coincide with what I believe.”

Yeah. Sure. Like the others, this fellow suddenly believes he belongs in the Tonsabucks Tribe.
Thinker (Northern California)
A commenter asks:

"I am sorry, but did I miss an argument -- even teeny weeny one -- somewhere in the article? What exactly is the basis for Professor Tribe's claim that the EPA's moves are unconstitutional?"

Not sure you can find this in the article, but it's in Tribe's reply brief. He actually urges the Court NOT to consider any Constitutional issue, by ruling instead that the EPA's regulation exceeds its regulation-adopting authority laid out in the Clean Air Act. If the Court rules on that basis, it need not even reach the Constitutional question -- which would be: Has a federal administrative agency (the EPA) effectively enacted a "law" (which only Congress has authority to do) rather than merely "implementing" a law adopted by Congress?
shirleyjw (Orlando)
Epstein in "The Classical Liberal Constittuion" discusses at length the growth of the administrative agency(with the enactment of the Administrative Procedures Act) and how those agencies usurp the division of powers in the constitution and government. Ultimately, those agencies are constrained by their legislative grant of authority. Their power should not be expanded beyond that. If you don't like it, then let's have a constitutional convention or an amendment, discuss it, debate it and vote on it.
Paula (East Lansing, Michigan)
It may not matter what the courts say about coal and the constitution for that much longer. The public discourse is changing. Not long ago, Michigan's Republican governor announced to the Conservative Energy Forum that "Now is the time to look at a long term transition away from coal."

If even Republican governors want to get away from coal, the battle may soon just dry up and blow away. Poor Mitch McConnell. Who will he demonize when his own party's governors leave Kentucky alone to weep for its underutilized coal?
Patrick Geiger (Fort Lauderdale Fl)
"So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted." Senator Obama 2008
Thinker (Northern California)
Incidentally, on the subject of "coal is dead," I happened to be driving through West Virginia last summer, and noticed two things above all:

1. Every WV newspaper complained about the federal government's "war on coal."

2. As I drove along a back road that paralleled some railroad tracks leading from a coal mine, I noticed a train with very many cars (I estimated the length of the train as close to one mile) filled with shiny coal that looked like it had just been mined.

I don't know where that coal train was headed, but I drew this conclusion: There may be a "war on coal," but a heck of a lot of coal is still being taken out of the ground and sold to someone.
jk8790 (Pittsboro, NC)
"Oh daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County down to the Green River where Paradise lay. I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking. Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away."-John Prine- "Paradise."
Yes I Am Right (Los Angeles)
Amusing when lawyers or scientists are funded by fossil fuel corporations they are evil special interests. Their findings must be questioned, and their motives must be shamed.

But when the same professionals are funded by Green special interests, well-meaning billionaires or taxpayer funds, no such suspicion exists !!

Despite the halcyon dreams of many liberals, we are a long way from being dependent on renewable fuels and there is no evidence we will ever get there.

Remember that next time you turn up the heating, or re-charge your iPhone or your Chevy Volt.
Jim Miller (Irvington, NY)
Some day we have to be dependent on renewable fuels (unless of course we have made ourselves extinct by poisoning the environment and changing the climate).
Stephen (RI)
This seems to be the common view held on the right, that climate science research only exists because billionaires are funding it.

That may be how republican politicians survive, but it's not how research is done. They do their research mostly via university funding and the government grant process. This process, despite republican attempts to undermine it, is notoriously non-partisan. Grants applications are reviewed by scientists in the field, and the actual people doing the research are paid meager amounts by the university compared to their value based on education. Their research money is used for the research, and just the research. Their pay comes via the institution or university they work for.

That's unlike the "researchers" who work for tobacco style fossil fuel funded "research institutes". Those people are paid handsome amounts to do fake work, so that their bosses have a paper they can spread around to a scientifically illiterate populace.

As for your claim that "there is no evidence" that renewables will ever be dependable or widespread, well that's just stupid. There have been massive technological breakthroughs in wind, solar, and hydraulic power, as well as the battery tech needed to store that energy and deliver it. If you don't think these technologies are quickly becoming viable, just look at the Tesla Model S and the solar farms being built around the country.
Clayton (NY)
" has emerged as the leading legal opponent of Mr. Obama’s ambitious efforts to fight global warming." Its wonderful for Obama to have this ambitious agenda, but where in the Constitution does it say the president will set the national energy policy unilaterally? And this article impugns the coal industry and wrongly assumes good and clear motives to what the EPA and Obama are engaged in. As I read these comments, I do not believe that most of your readers fully understand how much it will cost them to completely destroy the hydrocarbon industry as is the goal of liberals and democrats.
William Bowles (Louisville, KY)
I guess it doesn't matter that there is no study nor report anywhere that proves man-made global warming, or what is now being called climate change. And, I guess it doesn't matter that it has been proven that most of the scientists who promote global warming falsified their readings. And money!? Obama, Gore and Dems are tied directly to their Wall Street buddies who want to trade carbon credits. Gore has his own "green" investment fund he hypes just like he did the Internet for he and his buds when he was Vice President. They are worse than the corporations they pretend to hate.
Sara G. (New York, NY)
Really? No "study nor report", consensus or scientific studies on climate change?! Please see links below. And since you state that "most of the scientists who promote global warming falsified their readings", can you kindly provide links to valid publications that show this? Thanks.
Stephen (RI)

Please point me to this proof "that most of the scientists who promote global warming falsified their readings".

Do you have any such evidence? Can you point me to even one scientific review that proves such a claim?

I have to say, I won't find it surprising, when like all other conservative fact deniers here, you run away from the opportunity to back up your claims.
Justin (NY)
“I’m not for sale,” he said. “I’ll say what I believe.”

The things you say with your mouth and the things you do with your body - pocketing money from coal lobbyists - don't exactly synch up there, pal.
Rita (California)
The article is unfortunately short on the description of the substantive legal arguments proposed by both sides. But the article is long on the personalities and the politics. The reader is left wondering why Prof. Tribe would betray his friends instead of thinking about the Constiutional issues raised by the case.

Why, then, would anyone be surprised by the tenor of the comments, which, for the most part, just reiterates tired political memes from opposing camps?

No regulatory agency proposes rules without believing that what is proposed is within the law and the Constitution. To do so invites costly, time-consuming legal battles. And ultimately places the power to decide in the hands of judges, who can act in unexpected ways.

Cases that raise Constitutional issues that go to the Supreme Court are full of nuance and interpretation. In not presenting the arguments on both sides and focussing only on personalities, the article invites the "us against them" simplification of issues.
Mario Goveia (Perrysburg, Ohio)
The regulatory agency may believe what it wants - in this case it is about as ideologically biased as anyone. Let the legal arguments play out without questioning the personal motives of anyone as the liberals are doing. Their default position on anything is to attack the person and the person's motives while deflecting attention from what the person is saying.

To accuse Dr. Tribe of selling out to the coal industry at this stage of his career speaks to this despicable tendency of liberals to launch ad hominem attacks against anyone who dares to challenge their orthodoxy.
Mike Davis (Richmond VA)
"No regulatory agency proposes rules without believing that what is proposed is within the law and the Constitution. To do so invites costly, time-consuming legal battles."

I beg to differ. Unless someone takes such extraconstitutional laws to court there is nothing to fear for the agencies. And even if the case does go to court the agencies don't need to worry about the cost because we the taxpayers foot the bill. Finally, we know the exact response that will be evoked by taking the case to court, the left will engage in character assassination of the legal team and the opposing litigants. We see it in this article.

I generally believe that Tribe takes a less strict view of the Constitution than the founders might like. For him to sign on to this case would seem to mean that he thinks that there is some level of egregiousness to the regulation.
Todd Jordan (New Jersey)
I agree that the article should have summarized the legal arguments for the general reader. However it does provide links to Tribe's presentation before the House ("House hearing last month") and a rebuttal by members of the Harvard Law School ("Harvard Law School website"). Unfortunately Mr. Tribe's presentation is 57 pages long and may intimidate someone not familiar with legal arguments. The law school rebuttal is much shorter. Supplying links to original documents is commendable but I wonder if readers take the time to go through them in the absence of a concise summary in a main article. I sometimes think that the ease with which documents can be linked enables writers to skip in-depth analysis and focus on "personalities and the politics". I believe a newspaper should provide both analysis and links to the original documents if they are available.
mmilesll (tennessee)
Global warming/global cooling/climate change-they even don't know what to call it, is and always has been a scam. Take the money away and the problem disappears. Name just ONE prediction any of those far left loons has made that has been correct. Tribe is 100% correct about climate, his "student" is yet another story.
SayNoToGMO (New England Countryside)
You mean those well-educated climate scientists' predictions that temperatures would climb and that sea level would rise and that Arctic and Greenland's ice would melt and that we would experience more extreme weather events, and that the oceans would become more acid? Hmmmmm... all of those things are happening on a daily basis. The climate is changing and it's a very bad thing for living beings, including you and your children.
GBC (Canada)
Tribe favors action to fight climate change but he believes the President lacks the constitutional authority to make the regulations he proposes to make. Read his piece in the Wall Street Journal.
Stephen (RI)
Average temperatures increasing, higher frequency of statistically unlikely temperature fluctuations, increased frequency of high intensity weather events, decrease in ice cap volume, rising sea levels, population loss of temperature sensitive species, more and longer droughts, the jet stream moving and slowing, etc. etc.

Oh, you just asked for one? My mistake.
Prometheus (NJ)

Everybody may need a lawyer at one time or another, but not every lawyer needs to represent every client. Surely, Tribe had ample opportunity to punt this case and let some of the many rightwing lawyers handle it. Shame on him.

I think it is safe to remove the title of "Liberal Scholar" from his resume.
Mario Goveia (Perrysburg, Ohio)
Has it even occurred to you that Prof. Tribe believes in his cause?
hunter (Texas)
Pulling back from the reactionary climate obsessed policies of the President is a worthy goal.
R.W. Clever (Concrete, WA)
Mr. Tribe's integrity was never for sale -- until somebody finally came up with the right price. It is a sad epilogue to a vaunted career.
Mario Goveia (Perrysburg, Ohio)
Here's another great example of the default position of every committed liberal - immediately question a person's motives and integrity. Yet, you support the most ideological driven administration in recent history whose highest officials never lets the truth get in their way.

President Obama has demonstrated this just last week while claiming a "historic" deal with Iran whereas there is no deal as yet, just an agreement to come up with an agreement, and Harry Reid confirming that he brazenly and deliberately lied on the Senate floor regarding Gov. Romney's failure to pay income taxes for ten years.
Mike Davis (Richmond)
When logic fails ad hominem comes to the rescue. Luckily cases are seldom decided by the loudest yelling but rather by the best argument. I generally have come to believe that the louder the yelling, the less substantive the arguement.
Betty S. (Dallas, Texas)
The elephant in the living room is the fact that the President is forced to issue executive orders to push forward reasonable and necessary initiatives that a broken constitutional system cannot otherwise enact. It's certainly not the best way to govern but the do-nothing alternative will simply rob our children of anything remotely approximating the American Way of Life.

Mr. Tribe is simply this month's poster child for the corruption of American Academia by corporate money. He's also an icon of the myopic arrogance and stupidity of the Bar. Our 18th Century constitution is ill-suited for 21st Century America. Instead of 'teaching' a pie-in-the-sky fiction that works only on paper, Mr. Tribe and the Bar should be advocating for "repeal and replace". But of course that might cost Mr. Tribe his lucrative Honoraria and a bunch of lawyers might have to learn something new.
George S (New York, NY)
"...the President is forced to issue executive orders to push forward reasonable and necessary initiatives that a broken constitutional system cannot otherwise enact."

Nonsense. The only thing forcing him to do what he does is that he is miffed that he is not getting his way and Congress won't make things as he wants them to be. There is nothing broken about the constitutional system when the legislative branch does not do the bidding of the executive - they have zero obligation to do so; and that failure or refusal to act, charactarize it as you will, in no way then activates the non-existant "default clause" that says the president can then change things on his own.
marian (Philadelphia)
Sad, but it seems the good professor Tribe had his price after all- and I am sure Peabody Energy more than met his sell out price.
What a sad end to his career. He will now be remembered as the sell out king of Harvard Law. I hope he thinks it was worth it. In the end, Judas realized it wasn't.
gw (usa)
How can any person of decency defend the coal industry? Whether or not you accept the scientific facts of global warming, mountaintop coal removal is depraved, immoral, an assault on our values as Americans. Mr. Tribe can afford to pick his battles. To choose to take on defense of any part of this travesty is unthinkable:

Shame on Mr. Tribe, and shame on any of you who think this is just a constitutional issue. Long after we and our constitution are gone, the earth will wear the scars of our selfishness and ignorance.
Deanalfred (Mi)
You are sitting at and using a computer powered by coal. You, and I bought, asked, the coal companies to mine that mountain.

Yes, we did that. They is us, you and me.

Renewable energy is less than 10% of the energy flowing into our 100 year old 'grid'.
Eric Glen (Hopkinton NH)
"Anger from within the Obama administration about Mr. Tribe is particularly fierce" . This is pretty scary. Reasonable minds are not allowed to differ with our President over points of constitutional scholarship? Is it so inconceivable that our President is simply wrong and Mr. Tribe is right? Is it really impossible that this leading scholar of constitutional matters would have identical views to officials of, dare I say it, a coal company? What if the views of the coal company officials are correct views under the law? Wouldn't it then make sense that Tribe agrees with them. Is there something inherent about being an official of a coal company that renders invalid your understanding of constitutional law. The anti Tribe forces cited in this article start from the rather sophomoric assertion of "Obama good, coal company bad" and then ask why Professor Tribe would side with the bad people. The inability of these presumed intellectuals to acknowledge even a close Constitutional question reveals more about their character deficiencies than it does of Tribe's.
Robert Haufrecht (New York City)
The opposite of your position is equally true and those supporting Peabody are equally or at times more "fierce" in their opposition to the President's position.
Phil (Duluth, MN)
Reading through the comments, Peabody Coal is mentioned time and again as being a "major polluter". Peabody Coal produces a product that it sells to consumers who then burn it to produce varying amounts of atmospheric pollution. It is important to note that these consumers are US - all of US. WE are the "major polluters." This case is ultimately not about a single corporation working in isolation wantonly spewing 'toxins' into the environment. Peabody (and Tribe) are fighting a rule that seeks to impose limits on a single non-toxic emission - CO2. If Peabody (and by extension WE) fail in our case, WE will incur significant costs in the form of capital investment in renewable energy sources and ongoing higher energy costs.

The EPA's logic behind regulating CO2 under the CAA is frankly frightening. CO2 is an essential nutrient - if we could somehow eliminate all CO2 emissions it would be at the expense of all life on the planet. Extending the same tenuous logic EPA uses to justify regulating CO2 emissions, why not ban rubber? We use rubber in the tires of the vehicles used in commerce and transport, which in turn are the root cause of elevated GHG emissions, ultimately resulting in climate change. Ergo rubber is a hazardous substance that needs to be banned...
Sara G. (New York, NY)
"This case is ultimately not about a single corporation working in isolation wantonly spewing 'toxins' into the environment." Actually, it is. This industry uses millions (maybe billions) of their humongous profits to influence legislation and policy in the favor, to our detriment. We (the "US" in your comment") are simply the disenfranchised, unheard, disrespected, pushed-aside electorate screaming for clean energy but cannot be heard over the din of dirty, craven money exchanging hands.
bnc (Lowell, Ma)
Your cherry-picking argument is correct, however, there are many other lethal toxins in most fossil fuel energy sources. Those include mercury and asbestos - both of which have harmful effects, causing much illness and death. There also is the big environmental problem of the proper and safe means of disposal of coal ash.
PN (St. Louis)
I take issue with your claim that Peabody is not a major polluter. Go to a coal mine and tell me that there is no pollution produced by coal. Yes, Peabody does not actually burn the coal it produces. But it does provide the vital element for that combustion to occur and is therefore culpable in climate change. (For the record, I agree that consumer behavior needs to change).

Carbon dioxide is an essential nutrient for life, yes. But you somehow jump from regulating carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels to eliminating all sources of carbon dioxide. Where do you get that? Nowhere in the EPA's regulations can I find a proposal to eliminate all sources of carbon dioxide--to do so would eliminate all aerobic organisms. The fact of the matter is that we are upsetting the balance of the carbon cycle: we are releasing previously locked up stores of carbon into the atmosphere.
Deanalfred (Mi)
There is another argument here. Firstly, I am 100 percent behind the reduction of green house gases and out heavy human footprint.

But is reducing the CO2 at a coal fired plant going to reduce green house gases?

Natural gas holds a huge chemical advantage in reduction of CO2,,, but increased production of natural gas also implies the increased flare off of undesirable gases that come from the ground with the methane. natural gas also implies methane leakage at fracked wells. There is some,,, but NO ONE has quantified or allowed it to be quantified. Huge concern there.

Methane is 100 times more potent than CO2 as a green house gas.

So a little methane can make a big difference.

One of the plans to reduce the CO2 is sequestration,,,, but can you pump an infinite amount of CO2 underground,,, without it all bubbling back to the surface? Annnnd at a cost of burning 2/3rds MORE coal to pump it deep.

At present,,, not future,,,, the future looks better,,, but at present a plug in electric vehicle is just a feel good exercise that is contributing far more CO2 (3 to 6 times more CO2 from the power plants producing the electricity) than just burning gasoline in an efficient hybrid. So our plug in electric is 'at present' a counter productive, feel good, farce. (Wind and solar ARE the solution,, but now they contribute relatively little)

Is the financial elimination of coal similar?
John Galt (Galt's Gulch)
But the greenies don't want it to be mathematically reasonable. They just want to feeeeeeellllll good about it.
mark (New York)
I am a lawyer and had respected Tribe over the years, but now he reveals himself to be just another hired gun going to the highest bidder. What a disappointment.
S charles (Northern, NJ)
Baloney what do you think most attorneys are?
John Galt (Galt's Gulch)
Yes. instead of being loyal to the cult, as he should be.
cw (cambridge)
“I feel very comfortable with my relationship with Peabody,” I wonder how much coal money it takes Mr. Tribe to feel "very comfortable."

Perhaps law schools, like medical schools, should consider publishing the financial payments that their faculty receive from industry, so we can quantify "very comfortable."
DRD (Falls Church, VA)
It turns out after Citizens United that:
$ > free speech corporations > citizens

from this point on, most of government will be structured to represent monied interests, and not the will of the people. Obama and the EPA are throwbacks to ideals of democracy that are being priced out by the dominant plutocracy.
Stephen Smith (San Diego)
Coal is a killer. Murderers in court have lawyers representing them, whether it be a public defender for the less well-healed or a dream team like O.J. Simpson's.
Professor Tribe is just the spearhead for Coal's dream team, arguing one side of a case, as all lawyers do. Let's just hope his huge payday goes wasted and Coal, the planet's murderer, goes to the gallows.
nearboston (nearboston)
Being without electricity isn't too good for you either.

If we are to get off coal, we have to go nuclear.
You could pave the entire country with solar panels, put a wind turbine every 100 yards, and use every foot-head of water in North America and you wouldn't produce 1/4 of the power we need.

Not to mention the batteries, and the poison that is produced in their manufacture.
SayNoToGMO (New England Countryside)
If we used our heads and conserved energy like it is the precious resource it is, we could reduce demand by 50% or more. Waste not, want not.

Let's use our beautiful brains to develop more green energy sources. Using fossil fuels is the lazy man's way to produce electricity.
Brad (NYC)
Apparently Professor Tribe didn't save as much for his retirement fund as he had hoped. Pathetic!
TheMule (Iowa)
He's a lawyer. It's his job to represent his client. What do you want?
Warren Shingle (Sacramento)
I revere the guy and wish I was half as smart. Nearly thirty five years in law enforcement taught me that the great ones do not defend street thugs or tobacco companies. Yes, even a corporation that makes the planet sick
and leaves to my children a lesser planet than the one I have known is entitled to its day in court. Just because an industry operating in an area where public policy and regulatory standards have not kept up with scientific reality does not mean that the best lawyer of my generation should step up to its defense. He could have said no, written another
book and gained the same financial benefit. He has hurt his reputation as a defender of the common good.
SayNoToGMO (New England Countryside)
But the fact remains that it was his CHOICE to work for the devil. Nobody made him do it.
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
The actions of the EPA are not in the common good.
Me (Here)
Corporations are NOT people. They should not be allowed to influence public policy.
GMooG (LA)
Right, they should just have to pay for it. Or are you suggesting that corporations be relieved of their obligation to pay income taxes?
Ford (Dallas)
Wow, a liberal who can put politics aside and follow the constitution. Amazing!
nearboston (nearboston)
He's not doing that. He's following the money. HE's a lawyer.
Richard Scott (California)
Shame on you, Mr
Tribe. Shame. Using that right wing straw man, the supposed "burning constitution"? This is the proverbial American sellout: An immoral act committed for money...if in the next life (never mind this one) an accounting for our actions is due, how possibly to explain?
J. Cornelio (Washington, Conn.)
OK, if he's "not for sale," as he claims, might he be willing to share with us just how much Peabody is paying him?

Or maybe he's doing it pro bono.

Now, what was it that Shakespeare said about lawyers?
wps (Sacramento)
I admire your wit. I was taking this whole thing too seriously.
Thank you for making me laugh.
Jeff Johnson (Kansas City)
Well, he LOST Bush v Gore, so.....
DanDeMan (Mtn. view, CA)
Whenever I read something like this, I'm reminded of this passage.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

― Upton Sinclair, I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked
daibhidh (Arizona)
As a long-time hater of natural beauty, I used to favor coal on account of how mountain-top mining is destroying the Appalachian Mountains and burying streams. But then I saw what wind turbines are doing to the beautiful mountains of West Virginia and Vermont (along with the added benefit of slaughtering endangered birds and bats), all for a fraction of the energy produced by coal and necessitating fossil-fuel backup as well. Now I'm a "green energy" convert.

Fortunately, I don't have to choose one method of environmental destruction over another. Obama's energy policy doesn't stop mountain-top mining. The coal is now being exported in CO2-spewing ships to be burned elsewhere.
George (Miami)
How convenient for Tribe that Peabody's views "coincide with what he believes"....
You can believe whatever you want, it doesn't require you to provide any empirical evidence to support your point of view.
But then again, I believe he was referring to Constitutional Law, and NOT global warming. Read his Op Ed in the Wall Street Journal.
The NYT is redirecting the point here, it's not about Climate Change.
Tom Magnum (Texas)
I totally agree with Professor Tribe that the constitution is too important to allow any president to so willingly try to destroy the constitution. President Obama has had his knuckles wrapped by the supreme court on several occasions. It did not seem to bother the president that the votes were 9-0 at times. President Obama and his executive orders are not good for the country and Professor Tribe should be commended for his efforts to protect the constitution and the country.
Seth J. Hersh (Catskills)
President Obama's EOs are necessary since there is NO COOPERATION from the Republicans. They would rather stick their heads in the sand and say "I'm not a scientist." - rather than display any cooperation to this brilliant and thoughtful president. President Obama has issued far fewer EOs than his predecessors. The lack of cooperation from the Republicans should not dismantle our government.
Tom Magnum (Texas)
While I disagree that President Obama is brilliant or thoughtful, he is the president not the king.
Mary-Louise T. Coates (Waltham , MA)
This reminds me of the old folksong:
Mama, can you take me back to Lunenburg County, Down by the Green River, where Paradise lay? I'm sorry, my child, but you're too late in asking. Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away.
And that song only talked about the physical destruction of the earth; now we should add a verse about dying of air pollution as well.
marie (new jersey)
So, does everyone has to agree lock step with one party or the other.
Is there not freedom.
Climate Change science is abundantly flawed and Lawrence Tribe sees it the same.
The brainwashing of the radical left has to stop; whether it is Gore or Obama, they are not climatologists nor scientists.
Climate Change is socialism.
LeoK (San Dimas, CA)
Climate change is a physical reality. It has nothing to do with socialism as far as I understand - maybe you can explain what you mean by that. And I guarantee you, whatever flaws may or may not exist in climate change science, they are dwarfed by the flaws in climate change denial 'science.'

If the energy companies were really smart they would get out in front with renewable forms of energy and sell them in a capitalist way, rather than dragging their feet and engaging in bought-and-paid-for denialism.
Pete Talbot (Montana)
Marie, don't forget to tell the folks in drought-stricken California how "flawed" climate change science is.
Kit (Downeast Maine)
The science is well established. If the rate of climate change is not at least in part mitigated by government regulation I think you'll see a response much worse than "socialism" as people who are flooded out of their homes beg for relief, massive infrastructure projects are started, and taxes skyrocket to fund whatever the equivalent of FEMA will be thirty years from now.
John Kelly (Chicago)
Can someone explain to me why republicans take such delight in doing such damage to the planet and the air above it. For all their talk about family values they don't seem to care about the harmful effect their actions will have on their descendants. As far as Tribe's comment that coal is a bedrock component of our economy, so was slavery at one time.
MrReasonable (Columbus, OH)
Of course we care about the planet. No Republican takes delight in doing damage to the planet, because we are not doing damage to the planet. CO2 does not harm the planet, it is essential for all life on Earth. Destroying the coal industry without viable alternatives will destroy the economy, and hurt far more people than coal will.

Why do liberals say such things? Your comment displays not a disagreement on facts, but a genuine hatred for people who do not agree with you. Why?
Warren Shingle (Sacramento)
I want to be snarky but can't. Hannah Arendt had it right---life divides itself up into two categories of people, those who can think and those who can't. With Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz and those who want to treat the planet as an endless source of disposable resources there seems to be a profound sense of entitlement that they can can have it all their way, all of the time. No sense of tomorrow, no sense of gratitude for what God has given and no sense of stewardship to the world our children will live in---all seem to be the primary characteristics of the science denying side of the community. I worked with felons for most of my career and like you, there
are days that I wonder if my conception of the word "conscience" has any thing in common with their notion of what they see as "right."
Klatnu (Does It matter)
Such a broad brush characterizations. You probably don't make it past the voir dire when selected for jury duty.
Bill Chinitz (Cuddebackville NY)
Having perused the Constitution, Tribe sees no reference to drinkable water ,breathable air or any mention of "cutting and filling" the State of West Virginia. Therefor how could he not declare Obama's actions to be not supported by that great imprecise document ?
AJS (Cohoes, NY)
So, companies shouldn't be allowed to have lawyers advocate against laws they believe to be unconstitutional?
Sara G. (New York, NY)
No one here is saying they shouldn't be "allowed" to have lawyers. They're lamenting that a so-called ethical, smart and principled attorney decided to represent - and take money - from unethical polluters.
mr. b (florida)
Senator Inhofe said the first thing he would do was to set up a hearing and debunk global warming. Where is the hearing I want to see it Senator Inhofe you threw the snowball on the Senate floor now back up your baloney with the hearing. For some reason all we hear are crickets form his empty hearing room. Maybe he is finding a hard time finding credible witnesses for his hearing that refute Global Warming.
judymcpherson (America)
Wind and sunshine will NOT be able to replace the energy coal burning provides our society....what will heat our homes and light our world? This utopian daydreaming done by the left is exposing how childish and elite they have become. Mr. Tribe refuses to march in step so he is ostracized...he has lived long enough to know this is not a fate worse than death. He has self-made legitimacy and does not need it coming in from the outside to provide him validity. When the ruling elite have destroyed the mechanisms which are now in place to provide for our population, they will come to the conclusion that ' our population must be reduced since we can't provide for them!' This is really what it's all about. Ridding the world of those who don't march in line; those like Mr. Tribe.
SayNoToGMO (New England Countryside)
Judy, I have a solar array on my roof. It provides all the electricity for my appliances, as well as the hot water and 45 miles per day of driving with my plug-in electric car, as well as most of the heat from the electric air-source heat pumps. And I live in a very cold region of the country. If I added a few more panels, I would be completely self-sufficient. And it didn't cost a fortune.

Keep coal in the ground where it belongs. Go Solar!
Dan (Gloucester, Mass.)
Sadly, this is just one more nail in the coffin of popular faith in our democratic system, as it becomes clearer and clearer that those who make, adjudicate and argue the law are for sale to the highest bidders—and we all know who is making the highest bids. The cynicism behind Trobe's decision is truly appalling.
The author states that mr Tribe use to praise Mr. Obama for his abilities as a research assistant. When I was a young officer in a financial institution I use to praise my boss to his friends and not to his face. I knew this would get back to him and my praise would seem more credible.
Lawyers don't formulate who is good and who is evil but are charged with providing the best defense to their clients. The idea that lawyers must only defend what people perceive is the righteous cause by the majority is absurd and infantile.
Steve (New Jersey)
I had Professor Tribe for Constitutional Law and Advanced Constitutional Law. He is a delightful professor and a brilliant legal scholar. I would take his views on the constitutionality of executive action seriously regardless of my personal views.
Tim (Washington, DC)
As I recall, Prof. Tribe flip-flopped in his views about the Second Amendment and the individual right to own a handgun. He originally said it didn't include that right but just before the Heller case, he changed his mind. Sadly, the Court agreed with him, and I fear they will agree with him again in this climate case. If so, we will all pay a very high price once again.
smithji (Seattle)
Yes, coal is just wrong for man and earth it is time to remove this item from the energy schedule.
Greg Nolan (Pueblo, CO)
If we think back to President Obama's first campaign he was all for clean coal. Probably because of money. For me it was one of the most frightening things of his campaign. People change. Obama changed. Tribe also changed. I have to believe Tribe changed for money. I have to think Obama changed for conscious.
Nyalman (New York)
When did standing up for constitutional principles become such a controversial issue for liberals?
Stacy (Manhattan)
The Court of 1857 doubtlessly thought they were standing up for constitutional principles when they handed down the Dred Scott decision. One person's (or corporation's) principles are sometimes another person's denial of liberty or life.
Diogenes (Belmont MA)
For a long time, Professor Tribe has had a successful and remunerative law practice aside from his teaching and writing. Now that he is approaching emeritus status and has no reasonable expectation of being appointed a judge, amassing a fortune seems to be an important goal. He probably is going to be paid at least five million dollars for representing the coal industry.

There is no other explanation for him taking a conservative, non-delegation position on administrative law and the regulatory process. Especially on an issue that is crucial to the survival of human life on the planet.
brock2118 (Springfield MO)
To liberals the ends justifies the means.
Which explains why anyone who disagrees with them on their core goals is "not a scholar"
It's like "the science is settled"
Although elsewhere as an example the 50 years' settled science on salt in the diet seems to be back up in the air again.
Michel (Revere, MA)
It would be better to see a problems to solution flow process with a progressive push the envelope to smoke stacks moved under ground and a sealed scientific process begin like capturing the pollutants in something limecarbonate cake brick or how the planet did it naturally occurring in the ice age. The factory smoke stacks should have been a scientific sealed lab when they first appeared as a progressive forward society handling problems to solutions process flow normal action process as a expected leadership
PS (Massachusetts)
In the absence of knowing his specific arguments, Tribe's disagreement with the President's point of view speaks of healthy discourse. He isn't to be reviled but congratulated if he is presenting what he believes to be true - and his reputation speaks to that. It would be far more insidious if he had to keep his mouth shut and his knowledge secret because "loyalty" prevented dialogue. If Obama wants the latter, that's a corrupt use of peer/political pressure.
CastleMan (Colorado)
As a famous man once said, the Constitution is not a suicide pact. The reality is that this nation, and every nation, must begin now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if we are to have any hope of avoiding potentially calamitous consequences. Coal burning has to stop. No, it can't be stopped tomorrow, or next year, but the path to stopping it has to begin as soon as possible and the administration's power plant rules are a plausible, logical, and likely effective way to do so. Tribe says the Clean Air Act does not authorize them and that, even if it does, the Constitution puts up a road block. I and many other lawyers and law professors disagree. The CAA contemplates that carbon dioxide is a pollutant. So said the Supreme Court in 2007. And the Court has made clear for decades that Congress can delegate rule-making authority to administrative agencies. Congress did so here when it enacted the Clean Air Act. That coal is a big part of our economy does not alter that fundamental principle.
richard schumacher (united states)
We should always hesitate to suggest that the ends justify the means, but truly: if we lose the war against climate change it will cost tens of trillions of dollars in property damage, dislocate hundreds of millions of lives, and quite easily overturn the existing social order. If that happens no one will care about US Constitutional purity and there may will be no more United States. Professor Tribe should have stayed silent and not lent his powerful voice to the wrong side of this fight.
Steven Feinstein (Massachusetts)
Lawyers are paid to advocate for one side in a dispute, not to find truth or argue for their own moral, ethical or legal convictions. That's their job. The lawyers arguing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's case don't think bombing the Boston Marathon was OK, but everyone is entitled to hire the best legal council they can.
Steve (Sonora, CA)
The problem that Mr. McConnell and those arguing against the EPA have, is that all the business opportunities, all the investment, and all the profits will go to the "early adopters" who develop and apply new energy technologies. There is a place for coal in our energy and feedstock landscape, but traditional usage patterns are being displaced. It is Mr. McConnell's constituents who will continue to pay the economic price for this silliness.
Poppa150 (Oregon)
The Climate Change Monster has been stalled for a decade. Why? The little people like me are overwhelmingly underwhelmed.
peterkuck (west hartford, ct)
We need to remember that the Obama Administration has NO credibility when it comes to honoring the Constitution. The fact that “a number of legal scholars and current and former members of the Obama administration say that Mr. Tribe has eroded his credibility” is nothing more than the slash & burn tactics used by the most corrupt Administration in my life time.
The quote “Anger from within the Obama administration about Mr. Tribe’s actions is particularly fierce, although officials declined to comment on the record” shows that this is nothing more than the character assignation that this Administration often uses to support themselves while having one of their infantile temper tantrums.
cph (Denver)
Whew; whatever pays the bills, I guess. "Mr. Peabody's coal train done hauled it (the mountain, that is) away".
Nyalman (New York)
Bewildered and angry - that someone has the temerity to stand up for principles they believe in. Says everything you need to know about Obama and his supporters.

"Which is why so many in the Obama administration and at Harvard are bewildered and angry that Mr. Tribe, who argued on behalf of Al Gore in the 2000 Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case, has emerged as the leading legal opponent of Mr. Obama’s ambitious efforts to fight global warming."
jstuder11 (NW Illinois)
"But a number of legal scholars and current and former members of the Obama administration say that Mr. Tribe has eroded his credibility by using his platform as a scholar to promote a corporate agenda..."

Compared to whom? Jonathan Gruber?
c harris (Rock Hill SC)
Mr. Tribe is just wrong. Coal is largely obsolete and very dirty no matter how much one scrubs it.
George S (New York, NY)
Coal may be obsolete and very dirty - but that is not the issue at hand. Just because a problem exists does not mean that any agency of the government can take it upon themselves to do whatever they want to address it and disregard the law and constitution in the process. If the EPA is engaged in administrative overreach then they are in the wrong and must be reined in, no matter how "well meaning" the goal may be. The ends do not justify the means.
WastingTime (DC)
It is true that coal is dirty no matter how much one scrubs it (though some forms are much dirtier than others). What's that got to do with the U.S. Constitution and the powers given to the federal government?
Jason (North River, NY)
Apparently everyone, including distinguished law professors, has a price. Such a pity.
ZL (Boston)
"I'm not for sale. I'll say what I believe."

This statement would be a lot more credible if you were not taking money from the coal industry. Care to say how much?
HES (Yonkers, New York)
Are we going to find out one day that the money was too tempting not to ignore by Mr. Tribe?
Rene Calvo (Harlem)
It is an embarrassment for Mr. Tribe and his family that at the end of his long and distinguished career he has chosen to sell out.
Lou Panico (Linden NJ)
Everyone has his/her price and obviously Peabody energy paid him more money than the other side could offer. It's the American way!
Candide33 (New Orleans)
Even formerly liberal professors can be bought if the money is right and Mr. Tribe suddenly decided that he wanted money more than he wanted respect or his dignity...simple as that.
Denalicolor (Alaska)
and this from someone living in New Oreans and LA. Wow, you must have done a lot of research into Mr. Tribe's character, finances, actually read and are knowlegable about the wording of the EPA regulation and the Clean Water Act, and constitutional law. Otherwise, why would you make the hateful, libelous speculative statements as truth.
I hope Professor Tribe is wrong, but if the regulation is written to target a particular industry and not just emissions of a particular pollutant then we should be thankful that someone is protecting us from one person having the authority to shut down or damage a particular type of business without going through the proper legislative and legal processs.
John Warnock (Thelma KY)
When did Clean Air become a "Liberal" issue? Has our political system become so dysfunctional, so cynical; that every issue gets labeled as "Liberal" or "Conservative"? We all breathe the same air and share the same planet. Lately there has been more than adequate evidence that we; humanity, have been damaging and destroying the resources needed for survival. In the scheme of things, one's self-proclaimed political persuasion will neither enable or preclude survival.
Daniel (Chicago, IL)
I think anyone who thinks Tribe is out of his mind or has been bought has no clue about Constitutional law. I won't get into a lengthy analysis of Tribe's arguments set forth in his comments to the EPA. Suffice it to say that Tribe is clearly correct that these rules are a massive power grab. The EPA is regulating the States under penalty of massive funding cuts. The question here is whether the Clean Air Act actually provides the EPA with that kind of regulatory power, as is (or will be) argued by the Obama Administration; or whether these new EPA Rules are based upon a overly broad reading of the Clean Air Act, going beyond the intent of Congress, as Tribe argues. Constitutional scholars can easily come down on either side of this debate; and I refuse to believe that the brilliant Laurence Tribe has just sold out. One can be quite liberal in one's interpretation of the Constitution and still draw a line. The opposite is also true. There are many Supreme Court Opinions where a Justice on one wing or the other "oddly" votes with the other side. But a careful review will show that those justices are being consistent with their own philosophies. As I see it, Tribe has drawn his line right where he thinks it should be. That doesn't mean he is a traitor or a kook or a shill.

And just for the record, I'm an attorney whose leanings are generally to the left.
SayNoToGMO (New England Countryside)

You may be correct about the letter of the law, but then there is a case for doing the right thing. And in this case, the future of humanity is at stake. I would say Mr. Tribe is on the wrong side of the climate morality issue. And if his side wins, every one of us has to face the consequences.

I rest my case (for humanity!).
Joe Gonzalez (Tampa)
Isn't odd that the moment someone steps away from liberal dogma no matter how large the crown and the attributes they have been bestowed, they are called a heretic? The Dark Ages have returned within a tempest of liberalism, the academia are the high priests of the Inquisition and anyone associated with a differing view is labeled a witch and burned the fire of media mouth pieces. Check your watch, Tribes time as a vaunted liberal scion of Harvard is quickly evaporating as is his tenure - one way or another he will be ousted and banished. For a group of people to willingly allow an elected official to subvert the co branches of government is astonishing. Obama was elected President not ordained by God (which many libs don't believe in anyway), can you smell the hypocrisy?
GMooG (LA)
Don't you try and confuse us with "facts" and "principles."

Coal is bad. Obama is good. Simple logic thus informs us that anybody working for coal, and against Obama, is also bad, regardless of any Constitutional principle that might be at stake.

See? That's all we really need to know.
The Average NYT Reader
FilmMD (New York)
Coal is just like the processed food and tobacco industries. CEOs will say with a poker face that they are very important part of the economy, despite the fact they kill people. But that doesn't matter, only economic growth matters. Mr. Tribe, for all his Harvard credentials, is a pretty shallow man.
minfxbg (usa)
So the fact that Tribe is taking up a position contrary to the Obama administration on "climate change" has made Tribe shallow?
Thence, Obama's ignoring and trampling the US Constitution to advance his own agenda, and has foresworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, makes Obama, what? Shallow?
KMcC (Frankfort, KY)
I would rather pay more and be able to live and breath. I understnad your concerns but this is about more than how many $ we have in our wallets. We have got to cut out the emissions. What good is money when no food will grow, and the climate continues to have radical mood swings?
Iver Thompson (Pasadena, CA)
The Law and Politics is certainly a small world - such a battle between conflicts of interest hardly comes as any surprise in such a exclusive and select privileged crowd. Isn't that why all anyone cares about any more is when Titans battle. This fight will be our modern-day equivalent of the gladiators fighting to their deaths at the Colosseum.
JL (Bay Area, California)
What the Constitution means and where the Constitutional authority to act on behalf of the people resides in government is not written in stone. What the Constitution means and what it allows has changed over time. Recent Supreme Court rulings attest to the dynamic and vastly different ways it can be interpreted. The only absolute principle here is that there are none.

In the realm of science, which like the Constitution lacks absolutes, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence supporting theory is that burning coal is a lot more dangerous than metaphorically burning the Constitution.
Billchuck (Oregon)
The cimate change science is not certain, however so many people accept what is essentially a very weak theory as scientific fact. If climate science was subjected to the basic levels of scientific method it would become obvious that the science is still in it's infancy and cannot be relied upon for any concrete conclusions. There are just too many unknowns for anyone to say with any degree of certainty that climate change is man-made or that anything we might reasonably do can have a substantial impact.
Bottom line, the best estimates predict that a shift away from fossil fuiels would lead to millions of people dying of starvation in developing countries while producing questionable results. With outcomes like this vs. possibley reducing CO2 by single digit amounts I would say that the risk of a future calamity is outweighed by the near certainty that we will starve millions now.
WastingTime (DC)
The Constitution does not give the federal government "authority to act on behalf of the people." Sheesh. Bring back civics to the school curricula.
unreceivedogma (New York City)
The best that Lawrence Tribe could say for taking this gig is that in our system of jurisprudence, everyone deserves a skilled advocate.

Of course, some advocates are more skilled than others: they can charge accordingly, and the higher the bidder, so much the better.
Thinker (Northern California)
For those who insist Tribe is nothing but a shill for the coal companies, keep in mind three things:

1. Tribe can pick and choose among his cases.
2. Tribe undoubtedly has more than enough money to live very comfortably for the rest of his life.
3. Tribe has a very solid reputation as a supporter of liberal causes, and as a strong opponent of conservatives. As he must have known at the time, he killed his own chances of ever being appointed to the Supreme Court by leading the charge against Robert Bork. After that, no one doubted he'd be put through the same ordeal, only worse, if he were ever nominated for the Court.

There are limits on the authority of an administrative agency to adopt regulations without effectively enacting new legislation on its own (which an administrative agency has no authority to do). I'll admit I never expected to see Larry Tribe arguing that an administrative agency had gone too far. But he is. That will count for a lot with the Court, whose members (especially Breyer, another former HLS professor) are well aware that Tribe has rarely been shy about promoting the authority of wise technocrats to "implement" a federal statute.
Thinker (Northern California)
As other lawyers have probably noticed, the Times' citation of Tribe's "brief" is only to his very short reply brief. I've not read his opening brief or the EPA's (or any amicus) responsive brief.

But at least what Tribe is saying in his reply brief is straightforward: the EPA regulations didn't just "fill in the gaps" in the Clean Air Act. They amounted to a choice by the EPA between two different versions of the Act. That, Tribe argues, amounts to enacting legislation (which the EPA has no authority to do), not merely adopting regulations to implement ambiguously worded statutes adopted by Congress.

I have no idea whether that argument should win, but I can confirm that Tribe is one of the legal profession's most formidable intellects. I had him as a professor in law school, and was always amazed that every sentence -- whether or not one agreed with it -- was fully polished, suitable for insertion into a legal brief or law review article with little or no editing.

Justice Breyer was also a HLS professor when I was there. (I took courses from both him and Tribe.) We didn't "rate" professors back then, but clearly Tribe was more highly regarded. Should be an interesting oral argument, as the subject matter was extensively covered by HLS professors when I was there. I expect a great deal of back and forth between Tribe and Breyer, who were nearly always on the same side back then -- which was, to paraphrase Will Rogers: "I never met a federal regulation I didn't like."
Stephen A Weiss (Stevenson Washington)

I particularly agree with your last sentence as it relates to Justice Breyer.

The rest of your comment is "spot on" as well. We should all listen to the arguments and take it from there without disparaging Mr. Tribe.
Tom (Land of the Free)
No cause to worry, Tribe may be an eminent professor, but as a lawyer, his track record in winning cases is actually pretty weak.
Me (Here)
He sure did a bang-up job in Bush v. Gore.
FT (Minneapolis, MN)
Attorneys are paid to defend their clients, not endorse their clients views and actions. If that was the case there wouldn't be a single attorney in this country that would defend the Boston bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Anne (Montana)
I watched the TV season finale of Better Call Saul last night about the changing of a lawyer from one who takes on companies taking advantage of the elderly into a lawyer about to defend a meth kingpin, as we see later in a Breaking Bad. In our system, the meth kingpin is a person and deserves legal representation. I know that corporations are now considered people. Are we going to take the next step and assign public defenders to corporations?

This article reminded me of the Better Call Saul show last night. However, coal companies, in my mind, have done way more damage to our world than meth kingpins ( and I live in a town where meth has done horrible damage). This article hit me in my chest as far as disillusionment goes.
Ed Bloom (Columbia, SC)
I could not agree more. Tribe's betrayal of the environmentalist is like the way Jimmy's brother betrayed him.
GEAH (Los Angeles, CA)
"I know that corporations are now considered people. "

The concept of Corporate Personhood in US law dates back nearly 200 years. Just to get started, I suggest you read the Wikipedia entry.
Earl Horton (Harlem,Ny)
Law trumps humanity? Law trumps environment? Law is man made, subject to error, not made by a superior and intelligent being.
That is why we have so many issues in this nation, we take law as being set perfect, written in stone. Instead it must always be revised to suit humanity and the environment...
How ridiculous to rely on law that many times can be adverse to the public?
mikecody (Buffalo NY)
Correct. And it is the function of the Legislative branch to make those changes needed, not the Executive. That is the basis for Mr. Tribe's concern, and rightfully so.
bill mannion (boston)
That's right, we live in a democracy, much to your chagrin. If you don't like the laws, vote for representatives who will have them changed to your liking. And if they don't, it's not because "this Congress has abdicated its responsibility to govern", as so many liberals love to say, it's that not enough people share your ideas about "humanity" and "environment". Instead, they share my ideas. Maybe it's time for you to find common ground with other citizens who disagree with you. You may begin by reading something other than the NYT.
JLIn (Chattanooga)
Destroying a large and important part of the energy industry is simply criminal, a clear violation of common sense and his oath of office. The fact it is being done based on irrational religious grounds is altogether bizarre.
SayNoToGMO (New England Countryside)
The fact is that the fossil fuel companies haven't paid for dumping their waste into our atmosphere and the price will be paid by humans. Another fact is that climate change is real. Burning fossil fuels for energy is foolish and it's time to leave them in the ground.
Notafan (New Jersey)
Religious grounds? Pretty nutty thing to say. And yes, coal is bad for your health and the health of the planet your grandchildren will roast on.
reedroid1 (Asheville NC)
The coal industry won't be "destroyed" by a carbon tax or any other regulations proposed; it will simply have to pay up some of the costs that I has been imposing on the rest of us for 100+ years. And about time, too.

Climate change is not based on "irrational religious grounds" but on analytical science--unlike the knee-jerk religious faith in the magic of the marketplace and deregulation that right-wing Republicans have been foisting on their gullible public for 35 years.
bnc (Lowell, Ma)
I believe there will be many states that will enact legislation to defeat Mr. Tribe. It is the consumers of coal that suffer, not the producers. Kentucky and its chief spoesperson, Mitch NcConnell, can do all the screaming they want. In the end, it will be our health and safety, not his lobbiests' wallets, that will be the determining factor.
Jon (Florida)
Do people even read entire articles anymore? The problem that some people have with Prof. Tribe is that he is verbally defending the virtues of coal itself in the public forum, not simply acting as legal counsel because he believes that the EPA is going beyond its authority. The concerns that he is buttressing an industry that, as important as it has been to the U.S. economically, may represent a long term threat to public health and safety are well founded.
ardelion (Connecticut)
So in the event of a perceived global emergency, the Constitution may be abrogated?
Steve (Lisle, IL)
Let's not forget how we got to this point, where the Administration is having to force needed change through EPA action. It is because the Legislature abdicated its responsibility to do so! The President has said all along that such action would be much more effective if it came through legislation, such as the cap-and-trade legislation that was narrowly defeated in 2009.

Having said that, the authority of the EPA to address carbon emissions has already been established. SCOTUS has already ruled that they have such authority in the Clean Air Act. So, unless they reverse themselves now, the only thing in question should be procedural, not fundamental, Mr. Tribe's opinion notwithstanding. But when you're caught in a fast moving river, as the Republicans are now, you'll grab onto whatever twig is available.
George S (New York, NY)
The tiresome argument that because the Legislature, Congress, has failed to do what the president wants ("failing to act" in that parlance) in no way then gives a default pass to the Executive branch to step in and fill the breach. It doesn't work that way. Consider as well, that in some cases the Congress "failing to act" is in fact a form action - i.e., if they think a law, for example, is adequate as written then not changing it to meet the demands of the executive is indeed action, even if a passive form.
JLIn (Chattanooga)
The whole AGW scam is an immoral and unethical assault on the human race. It's all about ripping off the working taxpayer. Government is the only monopoly growth industry in the world right now and it is competing with it's own people.
Dylan (Boston)
AGW is not a scam. Educated people have dedicated their whole lives to the study of chemistry, physics, biology, and earth sciences in order to come to the conclusions which they have repeatedly stated. >>>

Scientists in any field are ONLY paid when they are right. If a scientist produces results that are inaccurate or false, the greater scientific community will call them out and discredit/correct the findings, such is the beauty of the scientific community and the scientific method.

Tribe is only paid if he represents his clients interests. These interests are not subject to academic scrutiny. Peabody's sole purpose is to accrue profit, no matter what stands in their way.
LeoK (San Dimas, CA)
Hmm. And the sun circles the flat earth...
Jack Archer (Pleasant Hill, CA)
Let's review. The Clean Air Act, whose constitutionality is beyond question at this point (except by some Republicans), is intended to protect the nation's air quality by allowing the federal government to regulate harmful emissions from a wide range of sources. Burning coal emits emissions subject to regulation by the government. [Are we still on the same page, Prof. Tribe?] The government proposes to regulate burning coal to limit such emissions. How does doing so violate the Constitution when the CAA is constitutional and regulating emissions from burning coal is authorized by the Act? Think of the disservice Prof. Tribe is doing not only to the Constitution, but to the health of millions of citizens. All in the name of what, exactly? I can only conclude that there is no fool like an old fool, even if he teaches at Harvard Law School.
George S (New York, NY)
"The government proposes to regulate burning coal to limit such emissions. How does doing so violate the Constitution when the CAA is constitutional and regulating emissions from burning coal is authorized by the Act?"

Let's review. Just because part of the problem and part of the solution are permissible and within the sphere of governance, it does NOT mean that ANY solution - just because it's done by the government - is acceptable or equally constitutional or legal. It's like saying the legislature, in addressing public safety, has the power to write laws, and the police have the power to make arrests to in order to lower crime rates - a legitimate government concern - the police will, by an executive or administrative decree - simply arrest all young males between the age of 18 and 25 because they commit the most offenses. It's all okay, right, they "mean well" and if A and are B are okay, then surely C must be too, right? Wrong! The "government" cannot just do whatever those in power at the moment want to in any means they want just because their stated aims are desirable.
Jack Archer (Pleasant Hill, CA)
What exactly has the government done, or proposed to do, to regulate emissions from burning coal that strikes you as unconstitutional? Tribe seems to be arguing that the government's action is not authorized by the CAA (and that it is tantamount to "burning the Constitution"). Strange argument, given the state of CAA law at this time. Tribe (and you) have the burden of proving that the government has acted improperly. Until you (and he) say why no one should take your arguments seriously.
86number44 (NH)
Tribe isn't a Republican. Blows your whole thesis out of the water.
Joe O'Rourke (Southeast Pennsylvania)
Many leading voices in law have represented Guantanamo detainees with very strong links to terrorism, mass murderers, and others who do and spew evil. This is normal, as in a just world each side is represented by talented people able to represent and argue a case - even if it does not coincide with the lawyers personal beliefs. In fact, this is the very way in which lawyers are taught to be able to argue a case.

Yet here a law professor so embraced for his views about administration health care and immigration has a strongly differing view in the Obama Administration's re-interpretation of the Clean Air Act to mean that the EPA both can and should regulate Carbon Dioxide. Let's remember that the Clean Air Act, an excellent piece of legislation by the way, allows the EPA to regulate airborne contaminants hazardous to human health.

C02 is not only not hazardous within the original meaning of the Clean Air Act, we humans do in fact produce it prodigiously. To extend the EPA's regulation to C02 is to imbue it with limitless ability to regulate airborne output regardless of what it is. Oxygen is also hamrful to human health (that's why we are told to eat anti-oxidants) - should the EPA regulate the output of Oxygen?

Point being: Tribe's views are fair and good for him for breaking rank. A law expert who only sides with one point of view is a partisan. Tribe earns my respect for doing this, regardless of the outcome.
edwcorey (Bronx, NY)
He's in it for the money. That should earn no respect.
peterkuck (west hartford, ct)
I always believed that the Co2 regulation opened the door to taxing the air we breath, since we all exhale Co2.
FTOP_T (Florida)
Exactly. It is the overreach of declaring the air we breathe (out) hazardous that is a risk for us all. To allow the executive branch to arbitrarily designate .04% of the atmosphere a health hazard and then enact draconian measures on an entire industry is absurd. Try removing all CO2 from a greenhouse and see the results. Not only is CO2 non-hazardous, but it is a critically low component of our atmosphere that could cause extinction were it to go below .02%.

What is to keep the EPA from declaring sea water hazardous since drinking it causes dehydration. This fight is symbolic of government activism gone awry. We will either have a government based on the separation of powers or we will have an imperial presidency with very few limits to its power.
w chambliss (richmond, va)
EPA's Clean Power rule is about 38 pages long; it's "explanatory" statement runs well over 500 pages. EPA is proposing the use of a little known part of the statute in a way it has never done before by interpreting the statute in a way never before expressed. That such governmental action raises legitimate objections, as Prof. Tribe has expressed, should not be unexpected, nor vilified as many of the commenters here do.

Objecting to the manner in which a regulatory agency has chosen to regulate is in no way a statement that the agency cannot regulate at all, or even should not regulate at all; it is simply an insistence that the agency use powers clearly given to it by Congress in exercising its responsibility.
JLIn (Chattanooga)
The EPA is a huge element in the massive unaccountable and unelected Administrative State that runs our lives now. The political and structural overreach of the federal bureaucracy is completely unmanageable.

How many millions of laws and regulations are we under now?
George S (New York, NY)
Well stated. The EPA - and other federal agencies - have been given legitimate authorities and powers to address serious public concerns. The problem here, and elsewhere, is that these bureaucrats feel they can stretch and pull their authorizations in any imaginable way they (not the legislature) deem desirable, even if in doing so they trample on other important protections or rights or constitutional limitations. This frightening situation is occurring to often in recent years and must be reined in.
FT (Minneapolis, MN)
JLin, most government workers are not elected officials. We would be an incredibly inefficient country if every regulatory position had to be filled by elected officials. For one thing, technocrats knowledgeable on the subject matter of the regulatory agencies they work for, would never work there. Our entire government sector jobs would be filled by politicians. Is that what you want?
Carl D. Birman (White Plains N.Y.)
Amazing. Shows how the law can readily be brought around to suit a client's agenda, but of course that does not ensure that the ultimately dispositive legal rulings will conform with said client's wishes or instructions. To my read, this reminds of the fundamentally subjective nature of our system of laws and advocates, that law is not some rigid objective rod of truth, but rather something dynamic and alive that can be used, or abused, by those with the power and the knowledge of how to pull the rod one way or the other. I believe Prof. Tribe that he sincerely takes this position in full faith that it does not contradict his other work and writings. I also believe that many see this as a betrayal. As usual, the truth is probably somewhere in between.
Lew (Washington D.C.)
So, since Mr. Tribe's constitutional interpretation suddenly diverges from that of the administration, he is all of a sudden a shill? This is almost laughable in its transparency.
GEAH (Los Angeles, CA)
Well, Pres. Obama did promise the most transparent administration ever.
AlwaysElegant (Sacramento)
The house is burning down and coal interests are throwing coal on it. Will humanity wake up in time and put these fools in their places? That is, in a room full of money and only money. Let's see how long they can live on only their precious money because THAT is what they are doing to all of us who live on this planet. Their money won't save them or anyone else from this slow-motion carbon induced catastrophe.
JLIn (Chattanooga)
Carbon is a blessing not a curse. When you need it for your hot shower and lights. you will not care who gets it for you.
Cold Liberal (Minnesota)
Well, he's a lawyer, what do you expect. It's not right, it's not wrong. Its' a case you can argue. Amoral, but that's the way they roll.
zmega (virginia)
Professor Tribe is in a position where he can pick and choose among the cases that he argues. He gets paid regardless which one he chooses. What is troubling here is that, given options that would serve the greater good, he chose this case.
mikecody (Buffalo NY)
zmega - As a professor of Constitutional Law, he chose the case on the basis of it's divergence from those basic principles of separation of powers. His, and my, viewpoint is that reliance on the rule of law serves the greater good.
Eric (Massachusetts)
From the comments it appears few have actually read Tribe's argument. In large part it concerns how much leeway an agency like the EPA has in choosing between differing but arguably valid legal language in different "versions" of a law. Tribe says precedent requires EPA to do one thing, his opponents here say no, the EPA has the right to do another. In addition though, part of Tribe's argument touches on the nature of CO2 itself, that its emissions globally are so vast the EPA's required restrictions on it in this case are economically harmful locally while globally doing nothing to help. And that having regulated toxins like mercury out of coal plant emissions, at significant sunk cost to coal companies, these new regulations would close those very plants down. There may be some truth to these points, but industry has always claimed new regulations are too onerous, and life has gone on, the air gets cleaner, people adjust. That the regulations may do little good on a global basis ignores the role of the US as a major emitter and as a powerful leader in addressing emissions. We need to show we can deal with our own emissions before insisting that other, poorer, nations follow suit. Tribe would likely agree with this, so what we have here appears to a case of paralyzed government, and the Executive branch is the only one that is eager to actually act. The need to act on emissions is clear, Congress is stuck, but the legal basis here might indeed be tenuous.
Bob (Marley)
The cognitive dissonance on these boards is amazing. 'Oh no, someone is thinking! Must destroy!'

The fact that none of these rules could pass a Democratic controlled Congress is telling.
Stacy (Manhattan)
At age 73, after a long and distinguished legal career, you would think the man would want to take the high road. Instead, he has chosen the low road as a degraded corporate mouthpiece, speeding us all toward environmental ruin, for a price of course. This is the world we now inhabit. The "best" and most capable among us, those who want for nothing material, happily sell their souls to the highest bidder. It is no wonder so many young people are cynical and disillusioned. Dignity, integrity, character, class - all down the toilet. You don't grease your palms with these.
Josh (Grand Rapids, MI)
Or perhaps he's just had enough of how President Obama has chosen to govern.
Jonathan (New York)
A lawyer's job to advocate for his or her client, not to trumpet personal political views. People should not be upset that Prof. Tribe is doing the job of an advocate. And Prof. Tribe should not be so defensive by insisting that the client's views align with his personal principles. Peabody has a good lawyer in Prof. Tribe and the EPA has plenty of good lawyers on its side, so the court will get the benefit of hearing both sides of the argument explained well before deciding the case. That's how our legal system is supposed to work.
George S (New York, NY)
Ahh yes, but you're missing the important element to many - the professor, a former "defender" of the president must, according to this worldview, be loyal to Obama personally, and any and all elements of his agenda, rather than any higher calling to the constitution. It is precisely this type of thinking that is so corrosive and destructive to our society, government and governance in general.

Secondly, as we see reflected in so many articles and comments of this type, many are not interesting in hearing both sides of a case, for to them there is only one side - theirs - and only one version of right - again, theirs. Dissent is not to be tolerated, for any different opinion makes one a "denier" or "hater".
Notafan (New Jersey)
Not if it nullifies an entire lifetime and and entire body of work. Then it is a sell-out. It's a sell-out.
US mentor (Los Angeles)
Our legal system does not work.
The Wanderer (Los Gatos, CA)
When I first saw the title, I was worried Mr. Tribe would be arguing against the science. The thing about the legal profession and the Socratic method of argument is that you are trained that the truth is irrelevant and that you should be able to successfully argue either side of an argument, generally determined by who pays the best. Science has already ruled on this one, so if the Constitution says we should be able to throw so much harmful material into the environment that it destroys our ability to survive, then I think we need to change the Constitution.
Rodger Lodger (NYC)
Two quickies: 1) nothing wrong with an advocate taking a position in a case for his client. Going into the advocate's personal beliefs or scholarship is pointless.
2) Republican lobbyist said 'dryly" Tribe will be banned from a lot of cocktail parties. Good pun!
Beatrice ('Sconset)
Do the comments on this article reflect how polarized we've become ?
One commenter muses, "gray-zoning ?" Who knows ?
Another commenter writes, "ad hominem attacks."
This commenter is bewildered at her inability to understand Mr. Tribe's constitutional interpretation.
I hope at some time Mr. Tribe will write more on this subject.
B (Minneapolis)
Well, he lost Bush v. Gore when in his prime and is getting long in the tooth. I doubt he needs money from Peabody Coal. Maybe he just wants to win a big Supreme Court case and die a winner instead of a loser. His tagline that the President's use of the Clean Air Act to fight global warming is "burning the Constitution" sounds a lot like the Scopes Trial claim that teaching evolution was "burning the Bible". But, he is no William Jennings Bryan. And there will be at least one Clarence Darrow sitting across the aisle defending the modern world.
gladRocks (Houston, TX)
The president was not a professor of constitutional law. As far as professor Tribe goes, it is revealing that even he is accused of being a shill for industry. This man is of the highest integrity and when he was younger was a favorite for a high court appointment. But, if you stray from the political line, you're toast, no matter how brilliant you are.
John B. (Georgia)
It's funny how everyone is jumping on the band wagon against coal. I wonder if everyone knows how much it will cost the economy by this attempt to eliminate coal fired plants? Your electric bill will probably double. That's when we will hear screams about the "rich" power companies. The economy of West Virginia and Kentucky will be deeply impacted. I'm no fan of coal but the draconian way in which the EPA is attempting to eliminate coal is too harmful. This is to reduce "global warming"...oops!...I mean "Climate change" or whatever the manipulated figures show now.....
Seth J. Hersh (Catskills)
So when do you want to start cleaning up the environment by moving away from fossil-based fuels. They are dirty, pollute the atmosphere and represent die-nosaur industrutries. There ARE alternatives: wind, thermal, solar, waves.

No, alternative energy will not immediately replace what coal, oil and gas produce. But they are sustainable and clean-burning.

The EPA has rightfully stepped out, as a result of a prior Supreme Court decision, to regulate the fossil-fuel emissions to the betterment of our environment and health. This is the EPA's responsibility.

Yes, the costs are onerous for the energy industry who depend on fossil fuels. But they've had it on the cheap anyway for years, without paying any expense to the US military for guarding oil shipping lanes in the Middle East. And the oil industry gets a depletion allowance. There can be an argument for the depletion allowance but it should be no longer allowed as market forces attempt to equalize basic production costs between alternative energy and oil and coal.

President Obama should NOT approve the Keystone XL pioeline as it simply supports our addiction to oil; it's no different than giving a junkie a needle so he will have a clean line to his blood - but it doesn't benefit the junkie in the long run.

Use oil for hydraulics and lubrication - and our oil supplies are forever.

We must start now converting to alternative energy. Solar power creates a large number of American jobs - and they are not temporary.
Yukiko (Chicago)
He wasn't hired to debate climate change but for his knowledge of Constitutional law. One doesn't need to know how to cook a goose to be able to tell you if it is tasty or not.
Eraven (NJ)
Me Tribe it seems was once upon a time a scholar.
What he is doing is nothing short of bizzare.
shuswap (Mesa,AZ)
A great deal of those who support Peabody's consigliere use racist accusations in attacking the president. They imply the president is less intelligent, they want to see his grades. That he is a dictator. More of the same lame arguments, they use over and over again against the president on any issue. Supporters of clean air are described either as leftists or liberals.
Climate deniers so not consider science, you cannot argue with them. They have faith and it is unshakeable. What you are left with are personal attacks on those who disagree with them. This is the client that Mr. Tribe now represents.
jt (Miami)
Interesting that a paycheck from the private sector is needed for someone to oppose this administration's abhorrent perspective of the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Blue State (here)
He's got no grandkids; what does he care about the future of the planet? Remember, the guy who dies with the most money wins.
George S (New York, NY)
Really? Not having "grandkids" now renders you uncaring about the future? One's procreative tally has nothing to do with the validity of your positions on anything.
Jim Davis (Bradley Beach, NJ)
"Burning the Constitution" is way too inflammatory a statement, but perhaps it is time to consider some fundamental changes to our present frame of government. The present Constitution of the United States is not the first, nor is it holy writ. If real objective is to have "a more perfect Union," perhaps we need a new contract that rethinks to concept of states rights.
peterkuck (west hartford, ct)
Please remember that a whole bunch of us have sworn an Oath to Preserve and Protect the Constitution of the United States. Any Change to the Constitution had best be done with the process set up by the Constitution, and not by the use of Unconstitutional Executive orders from any Administration.
Sequel (Boston)
"The present Constitution of the United States is not the first, nor is it holy writ. "

The quasi-medieval notion of "sovereign" states led us (prematurely) into a Civil War that placed us 50 years ahead of the federalism-challenged Western World, and created our economic superiority as a country. The fact that England allowed each colony to create its own independent legislature was the precondition that created both civil war and economic supremacy.

If we could avoid a war that kills off half the population, I'd be in favor of a constitutional convention. I don't think that is possible, tho. Having more Supreme Court decisions that assert federal supremacy on something other than "culture war" issues seems like a good way of avoiding Civil War II.
Michael (North Carolina)
I would like to believe that Mr. Tribe's position is based solely on his views on the constitutionality of the administration's approach to minimize man's impact on climate. However, that belief is made far more difficult in light of his comments supporting coal, calling it a "bedrock" of our economy. The question in my mind is whether he believes the science that overwhelmingly indicts fossil fuel burning as a primary cause of unprecedented and potentially devastating warming of the planet. If so, he looks far more like a paid shill. The science is undeniable, except by those capable of complete dismissal of fact. It would be helpful, if Mr. Tribe does in fact trust the science, if he also offers his expertise to suggest a more constitutionally acceptable means whereby our government can positively influence climate change, thereby helping mankind while also respecting the constitution. Otherwise, he'll be seen as just another denier, albeit undoubtedly a well-paid one, who should stick to his expertise and leave the science to those expert in such matters.
mikecody (Buffalo NY)
First, if the science is undeniable, how is it that regulations were not passed by the Democratic majority Congress of the past few years? Second, Mr. Tribe does suggest a "more constitutionally acceptable means", at least indirectly; have the Legislative branch pass laws authorizing the EPA to regulate CO2.
Lise P. Cujar (Jackson County, Mich.)
Too many people in the White House are thinned skinned. Not everybody thinks Obama walks on water and therefore disagree from time to time.
Lilburne (East Coast)
Until we see his grades and papers from Harvard, I don't think The New York Times should label Barack Obama Professor Tribe's "star" pupil; and, frankly, I doubt he was.

It might be more correct to label Mr. Obama Tribe's "celebrity" pupil.
Stacy (Manhattan)
Oh, good grief. Obama was selected an editor and then president of the Harvard Law Review, positions offered to superior students only, based on grades and a writing contest (blindly graded). Plus he graduated magna cum laude, which means his grades were at roughly the top 10% of the class (the highest honor of summa cum laude is earned by very few students, with the next 10% receiving magna). What more do you need to know?
Lilburne (East Coast)
"Star," as used here, implies Obama was Tribe's best student; I doubt he was that.

Magna Cum Laude is great but Summa Cum Laude is even better, and I have to assume that during his many years of teaching at Harvard, Mr. Tribe had many students who graduated Summa Cum Laude. That would mean that Obama was not Tribe's "star" or best pupil, but one of his better pupils.
RG (upstate NY)
As my mother used to say " Money makes the mare go, whether she has legs or no".
Richard/Iowa (Iowa)
First, if Obama was such an exemplary student where are his scholarly, peer-reviewed publications? Second, kudos to Mr. Tribe for taking this case on the basis of merit, and not ideology.
Chuck Wortman (Wilmington, De)
Lawrence, how do your grandchildren feel about you trying to leave them a legacy? THe legacy of being on the team that fought to destroy any hope of curbing CO2 emissions and save the planet from devastating consequences? Or does that not bother your conscience?
peterkuck (west hartford, ct)
Plants and trees need Co2 to breath
no Co2, no plants,
no plants, no animals,
no animals, no humans.
Rik Blumenthal (Alabama)
I love the comments of Progressive readers and the author of this piece. I can summarize almost all of them in one sentence: "He can't possibly believe what he is saying, as no intelligent person could disagree with me or my President." The fact is that the President's attempts to circumvent our Constitutional system of checks and balances to pursue what he believes to be virtuous goals, have now begun to alarm even some liberal law professors, Tribe and Turley, which clearly indicates that if he has not yet crossed the line, he has significantly pushed it well beyond precedent.
Len (Manhattan)
Appears the Administration is confusing politics with law, as administrations are want to do in implementing aspects of their agendas. Fortunately for this country there are from time to time respected individuals, such as Mr. Tribe, who do not suffer from that confusion. The country is based on law, any course of action, regardless how desirable needs to respect that otherwise the foundational law and process that has served this country well for well over 200 years will be eroded. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Ted Seay (London)
Apostate! Demonize him! Quick, before anyone else reads his brief!
The Times should be ashamed of itself for this article. While I certainly don't support the coal industry the Times is effectively trying to publicly shame and bully Mr. Tribe into saying only what they want to hear.

Mr. Tribe did not comment on the worthiness of Mr. Obama's plan, he simply said that its not within his powers based on the Clean Air Act. We as voters and constituents should keep pressing our local congresspeople to pass laws to deal with this very important issue, as opposed to encouraging the president to step outside his authority.
The Commoner (St. Louis)
Love it how all of these other constitutional scholars, including our constitutionally challenged president, are suddenly smarter than the Zen master who taught them. But hey - for the Left, it's ideology over constitutional process if they can't get their way the RIGHT way, the legal way. This president has used his bureaucracy as an offensive weapon against the energy industry since he took office, and always at the expense of "the Middle Class" and "the poor" he claims to care so much about. 2016 can't come fast enough.
Bruce Blodgett (Crestone, CO)
This is yet another example of how principle and polo are the games played by those who can afford to horse around while the masses are left waiting for life to get better.
Longleveler (Pennsylvania)
One would think that people who have to counter the effects of pollution, and acid rain from power plants would have some standing.
Certainly this is not a pro bono case case for Mr. Tribe.
Just Thinking (Midwest)
So if one is a liberal...there will be no credible organization in agreement with you?

Wow are they ever noble. ...or should they maybe stop and consider this indicates a real problem with their position?

As soon as we hear the liberal community stand up to China and say "we're never going to buy another product from your country and we're going to pressure our politicians to make it harder for your dirty products to be sold here in our country until you stop destroying your environment (forget about co2...they are dumping heavy metals into their water supply by the millions of gallons each year along with a third of San Francisco air pollution wafting in from their industrial complex, then we too will stand with them solder to solder; however, until then the accusations of liberal's Marxist underpinnings being to "kill god and destroy capitalism" still stands.
FilmMD (New York)
Henry Kissinger taught at Harvard too. I am not particularly impressed.
zmega (virginia)
It is sad to see Professor Tribe follow the discredited path perfected by his colleague Alan Dershowitz - helping rich people who have done really bad things "get off." He also seems to be following the path taken by Ralph Nader, John McCain, and others - making unfortunate decisions later in life that risk undermining all the good they have done earlier.
Pooja (Skillman)
It is amazing how large sums of money can change a person's behavior. I bet if someone doubled the amount of money Mr. Tribe is being paid to represent his clients he would abruptly change his tune.
By the way, Mr. Tribe - Barack Obama is no longer your student. He is the President of the United States. And you are not the robust professor you once were many years ago. Please stop living in the past.
"Burning the Constitution" my foot!
Upstater (NYS)
Interesting turn of events, but a tertiary question, really. If Obama overreaches let's not don't forget that he's trying to do something despite an ossified Congress. Tribe may be "selling out" or has a true constitutional objection...still these are not the real questions. All the infighting over natural gas, coal, etc. reflects the pros and cons that would be swept aside when there's a technological breakthrough in solar energy or, perhaps, in hydrogen power generation (the latter probably more complicated and maybe less efficient than solar). If I was a concerned intelligent Harvard professor or a brilliant former Harvard law student now vested with some power I'd direct my resources to overcoming the primitive state of solar energy. The rest only reflects squabbles between those upholding the status quo and those recognizing the dangers we face from inactivity. We are fiddling while California burns, the icebergs melt and the sea currents change, altering our weather. Regulations are short term political stopgaps likely to be only minor, and probably ineffective, potholes in the road. The road less traveled needs to be chosen.
As a professor, I see many colleagues who do not realize that there are expiration dates on academic careers.
Keith Roberts (nyc)
As a life member of the Sierra Club, I strongly support President Obama's desire to deal with global warming. As a lawyer, however, I share Professor Tribe's concern with administrative over-reach. It is not just a question of pro or con on the environment. It is a question of the rule of law. Those claiming that Tribe should not oppose the EPA's action seem to ignore the implications of taking that position. After all, under another President Bush wouldn't the federal agencies be overreaching in the other direction? I don't know if the EPA's action here is actually overreach, but surely the matter needs to be carefully explored, and if it is overreach we will all be better off for its being stopped.
lac (Dekalb, IL)
I don't get this-- hasn't the EPA made rules affecting consumers' choices for years? Is it that they're only unconstitutional if they negatively impact a corporation's profits?
tw (dc)
Obviously Tribe saw it as more of a legal issue than an environmental issue. Congress can always go back and give EPA additional regulatory authority through legislation even if EPA doesn't have it now. And the majority of the public would probably support air pollution regulations. The only question is whether Congress can really represent the people or has it become the puppet of monied interests.
rosewater49 (Saudi Arabia)
tw, maybe people in your bubble would support giving this unelected body legislative authority but the majority of the public? highly doubtful.
Portlandia (Orygon)
There is no question about that.
LeoK (San Dimas, CA)
Do you honestly think that there's even a question about who congress represents?!? Especially after the travesty of the Citizens United ruling? I was already rolling my eyes when you said 'Congress can always go back and give the EPA additional regulatory authority through legislation...'

Hypothetically that may be true. In reality, it's about as likely to happen as the proverbial snowball in hell.
DC Researcher (Washington, DC)
Mr. Tribe has lost his credibility. It's hard for me to believe that a lawyer would agree with the Affordable Care Act but not with an environmental issue that is less contentious and backed by scientific evidence.

Again, as America has seen in the past, big corporations have big money, and can sway even the most intelligent people. I'd like to see his pay check...
LeoK (San Dimas, CA)
"Daddy, won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River, where paradise lay?
I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking.
Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away."
Paradise, by John Prine
Earl Horton (Harlem,Ny)
"He was one of the most amazing research assistants I’ve ever had,” Mr. Tribe said"
It is refreshing that we have as President of this United States of America who has a good sound mind.
Notwithstanding his errors or misjudgments, what President can claim a really "apt" mind, and moral rectitude.
Clinton, amoral and sophistic. Bush, simply inept.
Pres. Obama has intelligence and morals, that is what many are really upset about. His refutation of the stereotype of black men. Who better to disprove misconception than the President of the United States....
Lost in Space (Champaign, IL)
The world's oldest profession.
NA Fortis (Los ALtos CA)
He's got to be getting paid a fortune. Money talks. Must be screaming this time around.

A combo play here: Greed + Avarice.

Pretty much standard in Washington.

Naf--dismayed Geezer
Bill Sortino (New Mexico)
As usual during these dark days, just follow the money! This guy, like his employer, has sold out to the great corporate influencer; MONEY!
arbitrot (nyc)
I sincerely wish Mr. Tribe all the same success he had in Gore v. Bush.

And I look forward to seeing him on Fox News explaining to a skeptical Megyn Kelly or Sean Hannity why the Obama Administration's rules on carbon dioxide emissions are metaphorically well described in terms of "Constitution burning."

I'm sure he'll also make the rounds on this to the Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes Shows as well, scholar that he is.

Hey look, let's not begrudge someone the need to make sure his grandchildren have trust funds set up for their college educations. We see from today's NYT that even other liberals, such as Bill de Blasio, have to worry about these familial matters.
John (Upstate New York)
If the Professor wants to be believed as a legal scholar, he could improve his position immensely by publicly declining to accept any remuneration from the coal industry.
peter Bouman (Brackney , Pa)
It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and a few minutes to loose it.
Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled Mr. Tribe's reputation away.
Alan Burnham (Newport, ME)
Pollution will kill millions. Murders deserve a fair trail. Mass murderers deserve a fair trial. Do the future victims of egregious polluters deserve a fair trial?
rJc (South Dakota)
It is probably more about ego than anything else. President Obama probably did not give the good professor enough credit for teaching him everything he knows. Tribe is being arrogant, selfish, petty and juvenile. I feel bad for the little man.
Charlemagne Boesh (Atlanta)
“I’m not for sale,” he said. “I’ll say what I believe.” Sure: show me proof you believed the same things prior to being paid.
atheist (White House)
If he was a convert to the AGW theory you'd be praising him, demanding no proof of anything, "payment" notwithstanding.
Jean Champagne (Louisiana)
Why is it so inconceivable that the question is a constitutional one and that Mr. tribe's position is the one that he believes is constitutionally correct? If he had espoused the opposite position, the left would be hailing him as a constitutional savant. Under the U.S. Constitution, the ends DO NOT justify the means. There are contries and systems in which the ends justify the means, such as China, North Korea, and most of the Middle Eastern totalitarian regimes.
RCT (New York, N.Y.)
This is not the first time that Tribe has abandoned his liberal princlples for a lucrative engagement. Back in 1999 or 2000, he argued before the Supreme Court against a class action settlement that would have benefited millions of as asbestos victims. The case, Ortiz, is a classic, in that by rejecting class certification in large asbestos cases such as the one at hand, in which the plaintiffs claimed class status on a "limited fund" theory, the Court closed the last door to class actions in mass tort asbestos cases, inadvertently initiating an avalanche of corporate bankruptcies. Justice Breyer predicted this outcome in his dissent, and was right.

Tribe was working for a single plaintiffs' attorney who, it was said by some of those involved in the deal, brought the case solely because he was dissatisfied with the settlement's provisions regarding attorney's fees. (He has since died.) Reportedly, Tribe was very well paid.

The climate case is nothing new. Principle, my Aunt Tilly. When money talks, few walk.
Invictus (Johnson City, TN)
The man is not promoting anything but the Constitutionality of the METHOD used to ban coal. The article doesn't say he's for or against the use of coal, but merely that the administration overstepped their bounds when they acted unconstitutionally.

He's defending the Constitution, NOT defending coal or the GOP. He's making no claims about the whether the substance called coal is harmful to the environment, but rather the broad way in which the EPA and Obama are overstepping their constitutional authority when mandating rules that effectively shut down an industry that they don't like. It's a Constitutional issue, not a climate issue.

The man has spent his entire life teaching and defending Constitutional law, and doesn't deserve the vitriol and defamation I'm reading from nearly every poster. This isn't about being pro or con coal per se. It is also not about whether coal is affecting the climate. It IS about how things are supposed to be done under our Constitution in this country. That everyone seems so blinded by the emotionality of the climate issue, is all the more reason why Mr. Tribe needs to speak out as a voice of reason and as a defender of the actual Constitutional legality of what this administration is doing.

To believe, that near the end of his career that he would suddenly sell out a hard-won reputation for honesty for money that he'll never live to spend, or take a position that would bring about this instant vitriol, is borderline insanity.
Anthony (Michigan)
Well Said Invictus, without our constitutional process our civil society will be no more.
Dennis B (Frankfort, Ky)
Always nice reading about folks with principles and I don't mean this Mr. Tribe. I find defending coal companies at the expense of the health of the American people simply unconscionable.
RBS (San Francisco)
People who have no biological chance of being alive in 2050 should stay out of the way on climate. Many Americans will be around to see the catastrophe unfold. Those of a certain age are certain they will not. They have perverse incentive to block action. Many boomers would rather get their SS checks and leave their children to fry. It's a fundamental collapse of ethics and morality when the future is so deeply disregarded.
shack (Upstate NY)
Mitch McConnell wrote to each governor that President Obama's policy was "allowing the E.P.A. to wrest control of a state’s energy policy.” I understand that Kentucky has a large stake in the coal industry. But don't CO2 emissions from coal fired plants extend beyond the borders of their respective states? As much as the Republicans hate the federal government, even they must realize that state borders do not extend to the upper atmosphere and rivers do not change toxicity as they cross state lines.
Asking coal fired plants to reduce emissions will lead to a cleaner atmosphere, and although it will cost money, new technology and jobs in the tech fields must certainly follow.
Anthony (Michigan)
Lets be clear CO2 emissions is what we are talking about, other hazardous emissions are already regulated filtered and screened. Human produced CO2 is measured in the billions of tons per year. As is the total CO2 in the atmosphere measured in hundreds of BT. Water vapor the largest green house gas is measured on teratons and the volume of the atmosphere is measured in petatons. Humans contribution is a rounding error at best. Please don't go down the road of tipping points and all that nonsense. AGW is nothing more then modern alchemy, CO2 to gold for those that can be convinced to play the carbon tax / credit scheme.
Steve Struck (Michigan)
This is interesting. Those advocating the whole climate change (formerly global warming) argument criticize Mr. Tribe because his view that the EPA is exceeding its powers happens to be at odds with their agenda. If it was the other way around they would be celebrating him. Perhaps they should praise him for holding to his constitutional interpretation even though it happens to be inconvenient to their agenda.

To frame this issue in terms of Harvard being embarrassed completely misses the point. Harvard should celebrate a scholarly argument whether it fits a particular agenda or not. The end does not justify the means, especially if it entails a government bureaucracy going rogue.
JR (Nashville)
Obama uses his position as president, not only to promote a corporate agenda, but to use taxes to do so; Solyndra for example. At least Tribe, unlike Obama, isn't claiming that taxing people for personal profit and self aggrandizement is big social benefit. As for the global warming scam...follow the money directly into the D.C. How many politicians are writing global warming laws and then rushing to invest in tax guaranteed profits from the resulting green corporations ...all of them?
jw (Boston)
By separating a legal issue (respect for the Constitution) from the issue at hand (the need to address climate change), Mr. Tribe (like the conservative wing of the Supreme Court in numerous cases, such as "Citizens United") is under the illusion that the law is above politics - politics meaning: the conflict of interest between the happy few (corporate power) and the rest of us.
The law must serve the people, not the other way around.
What is the legalistic respect of the Constitution worth in the face of an issue that threatens our survival on the planet?
It is time to get real.
Anthony (Michigan)
I feel sorry that you think its a problem that the conservatives in the supreme court follow the constitution. Shouldn't you be more concerned about the leftist wing that believes we should have a living and breathing Constitution? or use precedence from around the world when they directly contradict our liberty? The constitution and bill of rights is our founding law and must be obeyed or our civil society will be no more. The people, the civil society, don't see your AGW as an issue that threatens the planet, its a theory with poorly constructed computer models. Hence they have elected representatives to insure the laws they are care about are worked on.
James Mc Carten (Oregon)
Mr. Tribe, like the majority of 60 and older that support fossil fuels, won't be around when the brunt of global warming will take effect---what do they care.
Norm Gary (Morristown, New Jersey)
I think that Mr. Mc Carten, who apparently believes that others don't care what will happen when they are no longer alive, may really be saying, without knowing it, that he doesn't care what will happen when he no longer is alive. And he (and others who think that way) believe, erroneously, that everyone has the same unconcern about what the world will be like when they are gone. But, Mr. Mc Carten, many people, including old people, do care about the future and the people who will be living in the world when they are gone. Otherwise why would they sign Wills and create educational funds for their children and grandchildren and leave money to charities whose work they value? I'm not saying this in support of fossil fuels. All I am trying to do is point out the fallacy of thinking that older people don't care about the future of the world. Many of them do.
Jon DePreter (Florida)
The wrong question is being raised here. If Mr. tribe is correct, and Obama is " tearing up the constitution" to protect us from the almost certain disasters that will come from continuing to burn fossil fuel, the most relevant question should be "why does the constitution permit a private company to destroy our atmosphere for their own profit". That would be an arguement worth having.
atheist (White House)
There is no empirical evidence proving the theory of AGW. Even if there was, one company cannot be singled out.
grizzld (alaska)
Finally, somebody is suing the EPA because of its unscientific, politicized extremist regulations based not on serious analysis but left wing democratic party ideological imaginations. If there is a threat to the environment it is EPA itself. Congress should reduce the funding for EPA to negligible levels and force them to reduce their workforce to only a nominal number of employees.
John Edelmann (Arlington VA)
Perfect. As long as we move all the chemical, petrochemical, refining, mining, fracking, gas extraction companies, and all nuclear, solid waste garbage and medical waste to Alaska. Enjoy!
Salt Glaze (Coastal US)
Tribe will be forced to atone for his sin of non-compliance, or suffer a reputation in permanent "tatters". The naive scholar imagined years of leftist advocacy bought him a tiny bit of freedom of conscience. A cautionary tale for others.
Tiny Tim (<br/>)
This article is mostly about the political implications of Mr. Tribes decision to represent the coal industry. The comments are also mostly political while many are about the science and the environmental consequences of burning coal. What we really should focus on are the legal arguments; none of which are presented in the article or in the comments. Just exactly what is unconstitutional about regulating emissions from power plants when there is an abundance of evidence that they are harmful to public health and disrupt our planet's ecosystems?
WastingTime (DC)
Not that I agree with Tribe, but you can't say "focus on the legal arguments" and then go on to fabricate a claim of federal constitutional authority based on "harmful to the public health." The Constitution gives certain enumerated powers to the federal government and then there are the broader bases of federal power: commerce clause, supremacy clause, property clause (power to control federally owned property or public property in trust for the people). There is no "harmful to public health" clause or "disrupt ecosystems" clause. Can you argue this under the commerce clause? Sure. Also under the treaty power, if we had ratified Kyoto. We haven't.
Chuck Wortman (Wilmington, De)
I think right now, it's kind of how the people of Cleveland felt when LeBron left them the firs time for Miami. It takes time to overcome the feelings when there's a traitor at the door.
atheist (White House)
There is no empirical evidence supporting the AGW theory.
Gfagan (PA)
Among the weak, principles go out the window when a large paycheck is extended. I wonder what vast fee the energy industry is paying Tribe to shill for them.
Joe Gideon (Paradise Valley)
Mr. Tribe is the one that escaped in Plato's "The Cave"...
JAF45 (Vineyard Haven, MA)
Perhaps TProfessor ribe, ever the liberal, is working a double agent who has planted a fatal flaw in the Peabody Energy argument and is planning to sink it in the courts.
Miklos Legrady (Toronto)
it seems he's arguing the legality but not paying attention to the reality and consequence of global warming?
Anthony (Michigan)
Why would he care about the reality and or the consequences of AGW? I see you are from Toronto, down here in the states we have this set of rules called the constitution. The president can't just change federal law all on his own which is what he did by having the EPA issue regulations reclassifying CO2 under the clean air act. This power has to be given to the EPA by a law which congress has passed or amended. If the congress isn't on board you will just have to wait for a new congress. Maybe the president and the democrat congress shouldn't have spent their time on the affordable care act and worked on global warming / climate change legislation instead.
Jean Champagne (Louisiana)
So you're saying that the ends justify the means, and that, as long as you agree with it, there is no problem with unilateral action being taken by the President. What if it's a president with whom you disagree? Does he still get to make the call, based on what HE or SHE believes? Or is this only okay when you agree with the ostensible ends?
gael (Ny Ny)
The money quote:"That a leading scholar of constitutional matters has identical views as officials of a coal company — that his constitutional views are the same as the views that best promote his client — there’s something odd there,” said RLR In other words, a corporation could not possibly be functioning in line with the Constitution! Don't you know that corporations are eeeeevil, the root of American dysfunction? haha...this administration is so divisive, so hate-filled that they have lost sight of the fact that America (and its corpulent corrupt and wasteful bureaucratic government!) thrives on it corporate structure. The liberal didn't even stop to think about what he was saying; it perfectly encapsulates the "If you disagree with me, you are evil" liberal mentality
Notafan (New Jersey)
Sounds like you're the one filled with hate. Checked your stock portfolio today? Doing a little better than in 2008 huh? Even though, as you hatefully put it, "this administration is so hate-filled" that it destroys corporations. I know what you are. I know what all the haters of this president are. Oh yes I do.
Wrighter (Brooklyn)
Well I guess we can't count him among the ranks of highly regarded liberal scholars anymore then huh?

Disheartening to see money win out over environmental stewardship yet again. Though he is a lawyer, not sure why it's so shocking his loyalty is to his client, not the US or the world we live in.
observer (New York)
Tribe is the guy who got caught insulting Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's intelligence in a presumptuous letter he wrote to Obama. So why does everybody think he's so smart?
SayNoToGMO (New England Countryside)
Laurence's grandchildren will not remember him fondly as they search for higher ground. I'm sure the Peabody family will give them one of their houseboats. Lumps of coal for everybody!
dschwar (Cleveland, OH)
The liberal mantra of trying to discredit any opposition to their views is on full display here on this site. The arrogance displayed is absolutely breathtaking......not even a shred of thought that Tribe's arguments could actually be valid, though he has spent his entire career studying and arguing for constitutional principles an is a renowned expert in this field. The fact that Obama's EPA proposed Clean Water Regulations were struck down in the Supreme Court as an overreach, and that his administration has been overruled more in 6 years than any other bears no relevance in this instance? To me, this shows that the left is willing to sacrifice everything, including Constitutional law to achieve their means. They should be ashamed of themselves. There is a proper way to get things done in our society, FOLLOW IT.
Charlemagne Boesh (Atlanta)
"Liberals" seek to discredit opposition?
Lets see:
Swift Boat
FBI provocateurs
"Obama is a Muslim"
Breaking into Psychiatrists' offices
Joseph Huben (Upstate NY)
When the context is Citizens United, Hobby Lobby, corporations are people wit unlimited money and religious rights, one wonders if the Court has gone off the rails. Rulings against the President smack of partisan spin but who's counting.
Tribe's argument is far fetched and a bit fanciful. I only wonder how Kennedy will vote.
Kwhcstoeck (Oakland)
What about the arrogance of using the constitution to shield coal corporations so they and the right wing politicos they pay off can continue to profit from practices that doom the environment?
chuck (S C)
So "Mr Peabody's coal train" is still hauling away Paradise…with Mr Tribe's help.
jim (us)
The most remarkable thing regarding this piece is the total buy in of the now debunked global warming religion.
bmack (Kentucky, United States)
The coal industry. It's their God Given right to poison us, and they're gonna prove it in court.
Their cheap rates will never compensate for the heavy metals they put in our air and water, mountains of coal ash the taxpayer will have to clean up. thousands of children with Asthma and lives lost.

Because, you know, quick profit.
njglea (Seattle)
Mr. Tribe must watch fox so-called news and it has messed up his brain, like so many other people I know. 24/7 "conservative" propaganda, with a constant side of bible, will do that to one if they let it. But the real culprit in America's system today is MONEY. Imagine if we put money in it's proper regulated place again, as a tool to help us have better societies and lives instead of being a weapon the wealthiest use to keep the rest of us down while they get even more bloated with greed. Mr. Tribe is 73 years old. He probably saw this as an opportunity to secure his retirement even further, even if it means further destruction of the air and water that ALL people need to survive. Insatiable greed knows no bounds.
Jimmy (RI)
Perhaps he, unlike you, has an open mind and knows how to reason.
Jack (SoCal)
Making electricity less expensive somehow helps the wealthiest 'keep the rest of us down'? Please explain.
Bill Gilwood (San Dimas, CA)
Is Tribe's position a result of greed for money, or of honest conviction enabled by lack of understanding about the harm caused by added CO2 to the environment, or is it due to deterioration of his mental ability caused by ageing? Is CO2 a pollutant? What is the definition of a pollutant used by the EPA?
Jimmy (RI)
Ah, the deluded. Please reference the study that proves Co2 is responsible for climate change? Not theory, not religion--scientific proof vice inference.
Jack (SoCal)
Is the fear of CO2 - which plants need to live and we are exhaling as we type- an honest mental disorder or a sincere desire to increase governmental control over our lives?
Paris Bellum (Smegville)
The definition is whatever the EPA wants it to be today, subject to change tomorrow.
Stefan (Boston)
I have always wondered why the oil and coal companies do not switch their business to producing energy from renewable sources. They could make from it as much and probably more money, since such new industry would have to be build from virtually scratch. Innovation has been a great virtue of American culture throughout our history. Is it laziness, greediness to get rich quick, political pressure or just stupidity? Or maybe they are just unpatriotic and un-American, even if they get a famous professor with ethics for sale.
Greed Isinallwalksoflife (Austin, TX)
You really do not understand business. In this PC world, if they could do that, they would. There currently exists no such viable replacement and the costs and enormity of such a transition due to lack of infrastructure is huge.
toom (germany)
I believe their worry is that a lot of people will build solar panels on their roofs and try to sell the excess power back to the firms, so that the firms must change their business model.
Denalicolor (Alaska)
BP once had a division for solar and other renewables. It was one of the world leaders in the areas of research, development and manufacture. But when the CEO who oversaw the company and guided it on its path to the Gulf oil spill, north slope production facility spills, and much more took over things changed. He stated that BP was an oil company not an energy company and that the work and advertising that the Renewables division did hurt the feelings and confused the workers in the rest of the company. So he shuttered the operation. Did not sell it off, did not sell the research and accomplishments, shut it all down and locked it away.
This is probably the same mindset the coal companies have. Rather than work on reducing emissions, which can be done starting now, and progressively increasing as the technology develops, they throw out the all or nothing nonsense. And in the case of four states so far even work to reduce and hobble the advances made with renewables (Oklahoma seems to be the latests)
Sequel (Boston)
I believe that the demise of the coal industry will be a major event that the entire country should celebrate.

But the Clean Air Act did not give the President the authority to hasten that industry's demise, and the President lacks that authority under the Constitution.

This is one area where I agree with the right wing. The Executive Branch does not get to claim powers that it does not possess. Unlike the immigration issue, where the President clearly possesses the power to take action, while Congress refuses, the energy issue is one in which Congress has clearly spoken, and the President's job is to enforce that law.
David (Birmingham)
So Mr. Tribe is right-wing?
Jayredd (Chicago)
In reading the story it's more about Obama's executive orders being illegal than Peabody Coal trying to stay in business. I hope this case goes to SCOTUS sooner rather than later. It would be nice if we could limit executive actions. Many people don't realize that if Obama gets away with writing his own laws the next Republican president will do the same. I can imagine abortion being banned or curtailed, school vouchers, school prayer, etc.
Rodger Parsons (New York City)
As high-ined as he'd like to pretend, Laurence is just another shill for the clean coal boys. As if coal in any use could ever be clean, and now the Mr. Laurence wishes to sully himself with it's black reputation.
James Murphy (Providence Forge, Virginia)
This is a classic case of a bought-and-paid-for lobbyist with absolutely no credibility--except with Peabody Coal which pays his way. Shame is too weak a word to apply to Mr. Tribe. All one can really say is that he must be desperately in need of money. No one but a coal executive could believe the nonsense that Big Coal trots out to the American public. No one,, it seems, other than misguided people like Laurence Tribe. This is truly sad.
richard (alexandria, virginia)
Its scary how progressives think sometimes. In their world the rule of law always takes a back seat to what they think is right. I hate coal as much as the next guy, but the process matters too. and sometimes people just disagree, and its really not necessary to smear someone every time this happens...
Reva (New York City)
It's scarier how conservatives think, denying climate change at all. This President is trying to do something about it, fighting members of the Committee on Environment in Congress who don't even believe in science. If the members let in reality, this would be a bipartisan effort.
jonathan berger (philadelphia)
If you go back over the arguments for and against many of the amendments to the constitution you can find all kinds of respected thinkers holding out for the no change option because of the rule of law. Mr. Tribe knows these dichotomies well. Such and such was bad legislation or the case was badly decided. At some point problems need to be addressed. In this case his arguments are aiding and abetting dangerous changes in the earth's climate. What is his solution?
ATM (Down by the River)
Which dangerous changes to the earth's climate? There has been no statistical change to the earth's temperature for the last 18 years and 4 months. That is a longer period than the warming that occurred from the late 70's into the mid 90s.
In that same time CO2 concentrations have increased, perhaps due to human burning of fossil fuels (perhaps not). So where's this dangerous change coming from and what exactly is it? Temperature isn't changing and hasn't changed for nearly 2 decades yet "science" says that CO2, a very, very minor component of the atmosphere at 400 parts per 1,000,000 must be the cause.
Cause of what exactly?
Anony (Not in NY)
To answer: the professor of constitutional law has none! Precisely because the Earth is in the balance, the President is not "asserting executive power far beyond its lawful authority." Tribe commits the post-modern fallacy: government can rule oblivious to biophysical realities.
ralph Petrillo (nyc)
He must of had financial losses to take this position as his career nears its end. The light was fading so I attempted to shine to make up for the dying light, a mirror image of his current character. Coal is a major pollutant and needs to be controlled. End of lesson. A tribe needs many and when a tribe tries to live independently and selfishly it lacks breath.
Denalicolor (Alaska)
I'm glade everything is so clear cut, and black and white for you. While I don't agree with Tribe, it is of no value to resort to libelous speculation. Unless you have done some research into his financial situation, in which case make a statement with backup. Without reading the EPA regualtion and seeing if it targets the industry specifically, just emission levels, it is dificult for even a legal expert to determine if the rule runs afoul of the constitution. If only targets emissions of any plant then the rebuttal would be to implement current and future technology to reduce the emissions. Does not dictate or necessitate a change in fuel source. If it dictates a change a specific fuel to do that then one hopes that the administration does not have that authority. To shut down an industry needs to have a national consensus and properly developed legislation. We have seen enough questionable administrative actions by both this and the previous regimes.
Emilio (Florida)
Critical thinking and opposing views are to be respected not criticized but used as a basis to form our own views. Now that Mr. Tribe does not agree with Obama he is an old fool that has been tricked by corporate money to the dark side, how quickly the respected are disrespected. Many liberals are disappointed with Obama effort to distort the constitution to his benefit and many more will oppose his efforts.
Nii (NY)
I think one can clearly see and agree with some of his critics that his arguments are not scholarly, but biased towards his client. What all this means is that an educated person can twist and turn around like a pretzel without any moral gumption. Scholars and newly minted students from business schools and from these institutions of knowledge have lost their moral direction, so they can claim and reason out anything for a few $$
outis (no where)
Science. Not Mr. Obama. Tribe is going against solid science, which Mr. Obama is familiar with.

Shame on the NYT for framing this serious matter in these personal terms.
Jafo232 (New York)
What surprises me is that so many are "angered" or "surprised" that someone may question the means of an end. Mr. Tribe may very well agree to the outcome of said regulations, but he apparently still believes that the ends do not justify the means.
Timeout77 (boca raton, florida)
Interesting that teachers of the law find it wrong for a lawyer to represent a client and make a legal argument. Professor Tribe - as with other practicing lawyers, doesn't have to agree with a client's underlying philosophy if he believes his legal argument is correct in a particular circumstance. It's time that the leftist legal agenda be made fair and balanced, by giving credence to opposing arguments in pursuit of legal truths rather than resort to the traditional kill the messenger comments.
Constance Underfoot (Seymour, CT)
Mining and burning coal isn't a "corporate agenda' as consumers demand both things that are mined and energy, cheap energy in particular. That's a consumer agenda which creates the corporate one, but clearly Obama does not care about the financial burden on the consumer.
barbara8101 (Philadelphia)
There is precedent for scholars changing their views, changes that seem to follow the wish for additional income, whether needed or not. After all, lawyers do not have to believe in their clients' causes--they just have to be paid.

Professor Tribe should, however, be ashamed of himself. I am sure that he makes an income even without the coal company that would cast the vast majority of the world into paroxysms of envy Moreover, as a legal matter I wonder whether it might be unethical for him to represent the coal company here, given that he formerly represented the litigant on the other side. . . .
RS (Philly)
So what if Prof. Tribe is being paid by a lobbying organization? He is right on the science and the law.

Research funded by the government is subject to political pressures and the preset biases of the government department funding it. It is not on some superior moral high ground.
Ray Clark (Maine)
But it's hard to defend the burning of coal on scientific grounds, isn't it? And is research funded by private parties intimately involved with making money off the results the moral high ground?
Scandisc (Hamilton, NJ)
This one is an easy one to understand. It is the classic disintegration of the relationship between the esteemed mentor and his/her mentored student, employee, friend...the list goes on. It is sad, especially when the mentor sets out to inflict real damage on his student as is the case here.
Walker (New York)
I'm just flabbergasted that the estimable Mr. Tribe would put his credibility and reputation at risk by being a flack for a coal company. Any idiot can observe the emissions from a coal-fired power plant and conclude that burning coal is a dirty business and harmful to the environment. If Mr. Tribe is going to sell out to commercial interests, can't he at least get a better paying client?
Steve Larson (California)
You simply cannot conceive of someone holding a different opinion than you do. It couldn't possibly be that Mr. Tribe sincerely believes in the case he is arguing. No, he disagrees with you so he must be a "flack." (Actually, I don't even know what a flack is)
Mike (PA)
I don't see a controversy here. Mr Tribe is an expert lawyer who believes x. So a company that also believes x has rationally hired him for his support in a legal dispute over x. Does the fact that Tribe happened to teach and to like Obama, who does not believe x and who the company is in the legal dispute with, suddenly require Tribe neither to believe x nor to support the company in its legal dispute over x against Obama ? No. What would be controversial is if Tribe, out of some sentimental notion of loyalty, betrayed his own beliefs by refusing to support the company legally.
Ray Clark (Maine)
Or, if Tribe, out of some need for cash, betrayed his own beliefs by refusing to support the Clean Air Act. That's what the controversy is all about: the question of Mr. Tribe's motives. I have no idea.
Mike (PA)
I have no idea either. But I think it's improbable that the 73-year-old Tribe, a star professor at Harvard, a venerable author of many books, and (I believe) an occasional consultant at a seemingly first-rate law firm is strapped for cash - though perhaps I'm naive to think that. My wager is that his motives are honorable.
Laura (Alabama)
I believe, but would appreciate getting more input, that when people talk about converting from coal to natural gas, we're talking about continued fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in the U.S. and Canada (and eventually China and Russia, who sit on top of huge reservers of natural gas). The air may be "cleaner" when you burn natural gas instead of coal but the production of natural gas is mainly through fracking which uses enormous amounts of water and an unknown cocktail of toxic chemicals. Fracking also releases methane, a greenhouse gas, although I believe they are trying to find a way to capture it. It also has been linked to seismic activity (Britain suspended fracking after a series of small earthquakes).

I'm not suggesting that we burn more coal but I feel like it's important to understand that natural gas is NOT going to be the perfect solution to our energy problems. "Natural" is a great label but just like with vitamins, it doesn't always mean it's good for you!
Jack McHenry (Charlotte, NC)
Coal producers are literally waging a war on sustainable life on this planet. How about a class action suit from California's agricultural industry against coal producers and consumers? Mitch McConnell and his merry band are blithely leading the country to ruin.
ken lyons (mn)
The tobacco industry said breathing smoke was good and the government was interfering with free enterprise. The coal industry says breathing smoke is good and the government is interfering with free enterprise.
rob em (lake worth)
Everybody has a right to earn a living. Disagreeing with the President doesn't make ones motives any more suspect than anyone else who gets paid for their work.
Professor Tribe didn't have to take this case; I am sure someone of his stature could have found work elsewhere. The fact that he would take the case despite his support of the President only makes his endeavors more credible.
K Henderson (NYC)
"Everybody has a right to earn a living."

No. It depends on how one "earns" that living. I cannot believe that is your starting premise.

Furthermore you do realize how much of the privileged class Tribe is?
aek (New England)
Cheshire, Ohio. The town that American Electric Power had to purchase and abandon directly due to the effects of the adjacent coal-fired power plant.

As the child of a design engineer for coal-fired power plants and later a healthcare provider, I have seen up close and personal the immediate and long range effects of coal on all affected by it: the miners and their ruined lungs, the people downwind and their ruined lungs and devastating cancers, the acidified forests, and now the maybe-too-late-to-halt global climate change.

The mantra of the power generation industry in the Mad Men era was more generation as fast as possible. Today's message must be about the safety of the world's population: mitigation of power generation harms and a shift of the business toward solar, wind, geothermal and new technologies waiting to be imagined and developed.

Professor Tribe need only visit Cheshire to consider the Constitutionality of what has been and is being done to the populace by fossil fuel power generation entities.

The grin of that cat is sinister indeed.
Samuel Markes (New York)
This is what happens when issues of science are treated as issues of politics. And regretfully, our politics are utterly corrupted by money from business.

I would wish that Mr. Obama would take up his post and state plainly to the population that yielding to the demands of the fossil fuel industry and taking the easy path to our energy has created a situation that will, in the space of a lifetime, turn our planet into a far less hospitable place for most of the species that have thrived in it. He could say that we have a choice to either continue to yield to the short term interests of a wealthy few, or to use the technology we have available now to change the course of our future.

We can change the future for our children, for their children and for most of the species on this planet. We're already changing it for them by our inaction, by our apathy. Why don't we change it for the better?
Marty (Massachusetts)
Finally. Some rationality that can actually help build consensus on climate change, even though it seems to challenge the most popular common fever to eliminate coal.

I've been working with energy, transportation, water, and waste systems around the world for decades - part of that time as a regulator of fuel consumption and emissions.

If you actually look at the coal plants around this country, and the global pollution patterns, and the rapidly emerging pollution control technologies, and the absurdity of most claims to the future penetration of solar and wind (thousands of square miles of solar panels and wind farms)... will find that simply closing coal plants has extreme local and cross-state network implications that no one in the current EPA appears to have measured in their cost benefit underpinnings of this order.

If you compare the damage from Fracking and the damage from coal pollution in the same cost benefit equation, you will find that the the choice between "clean" natural gas and "dirty" coal is much more complex than it seems.

If you look at the imbalance in the national electricity grid caused by coal plant shutdowns, you will find electricity disruptions that induce many unintended consequences, like using heavy oil for electricity.

And if one looks at emerging "biosciences" of extracting energy without "burning", one finds the blunt force of the current order to close coal is indeed exerting power far beyond the evidence, and the Constitution.
Victor (NY)
Professor Tribe could have simply written a law review article to express what he really believed about the scope of the Clean air Act. But by aligning himself with a major corporate polluter whose "product" adversely affects the health of millions of people, Professor Tribe is doing what the average citizen thinks is wrong with the legal profession--selling themselves to the highest bidder regardless of the impact that his advocacy will have on common people.

While Professor Tribe claims that his relationship with Peabody is simply based on a convergence of views, he could have expressed his views in an amicis brief. Instead he has willingly offered his services as counsel to represent the coal company. He does not need to generate revenue for a law firm and Peabody can be adequately represented by other lawyers. So why argue a case that if successful will have such an adverse impact on so many people?

I don't know why Professor Tribe chose this position, nor why he so glibly ignores the health consequences of his actions on those who will never be able to afford his expert legal advice. But as a citizen once again I must wonder about why a lawyer of his reputation would act in such an amoral fashion?
K Henderson (NYC)
"Somebody wanted my help and it happened to coincide with what I believe"

That entire sentence by Tribe is delicious lawyer-speak.
Eric Glen (Hopkinton NH)
Perhaps Professor Tribe equates morality with advocating on behalf of a client facing an unconstitutional imposition of the law. Many like you argue lawyers should not represent the publicly maligned and should especially not raise constitutional protections in doing so. Fortunately for our system, there are many lawyers who would find your views amoral if not immoral.
K Henderson (NYC)
Eric I sincerely like your comment but the flip-side to your statement is that "laws are not absolute either" and you seem to suggest so. Laws change for all kinds of good reasons in every state all of the time. So let's leave "amoral" and "immoral" out of it? Laws and "morality" may share and overlap but they are not the same thing. Not ever.
K Henderson (NYC)
Very embarrassing to Harvard.

Does Tribe know his academic and professional reputation is now officially in tatters?
doktorij (Eastern Tn)
I would not condemn Mr. Tribe off hand. While coal as a fuel is detrimental to the environment, along with other fossil fuels, it is not difficult to understand people fighting to hang on to their livelihood. It happened in the UK under Thatcher and was devastating for those regions. Coal has seen it's heyday, but it will not completely disappear until viable options present themselves.

President Obama's approach has been within what he able to do considering the complete combativeness of his opposition over every detail. It is extremely difficult to address complicated issues when dealing with people who's only interest is to see him fail. We won't even get into the denial part.
Susan (Abuja, Nigeria)
It's all a bit off...admittedly not an expert in the Clean Air Act. Admittedly had not been paying attention to this issue lo these last several years. And suddenly the big marquee name in Constitutional Law is co-signing op eds with coal industry officials. Maybe his retirement fund needs beefing up. Maybe he's mad about not being offered this or that from the administration of his former star pupil.
All that said, there's still no reason to think that Mr. Tribe does not truly believe his position. And there's no reason to run screaming for the foothills. He's a revered scholar, a very smart man, but he's not infallible and he's not always right. How this all plays out in the courts has much more to do with the justices on the bench at this point.
gladRocks (Houston, TX)
He is a foremost expert on constitutional law, which is why he was called on to contribute to the case. Meh is also not the only prominent liberal legal scholar to call Obama out for overstepping his authority.
Keith (Midwest)
A bit off? How do you reconcile this if the coal industry is right? What is your basis for truth? The liars in the UN? The conspirators at East Anglia? The ego maniac Mann?

You don't need to be a "very smart man" to have an objective understanding of what a political power grab "climate change" is on all of us. You don't need to be "paying attention" to know that 100s of thousands careers now depend on the lie of climate change to be true. And yes there is a reason to run screaming... from the faith based religion that has taken over the noble cause of environmentalism.
carlson74 (Massachyussetts)
In other words Tribe has sold out to big coal. Sitting here looking out the window I see the effects of coal to our atmosphere. There is no such thing as clean coal.
issac clark (america)
Yes, he sold out ..pffff
It could not possible be that the man actually believes in our founding documents separation of powers that Obama has over reached time and time again. It could not possibly be that the Constitution professor sees that if unchecked these actions will lead to a tyrant dictatorship and destruction of our Country.
The only people being bought off is people like you being brought by the Fund. Soro the world fore most anti-Semitic jew and the Islamic state with it's oil money sponsoring a global caliphate.
Notafan (New Jersey)
Might it just be that Mr. Tribe is now an angry and somewhat confused older man disappointed that his star student did not appoint him to the Supreme Court, a nomination that could not have been made because Mr. Tribe could never be confirmed with his clear stake on the most liberal understanding of the law.

It is very sad to see a man of his once stature betray a a lifetime of belief and work and apparently out of spite and to grovel for money.
K Henderson (NYC)
gael (Ny Ny)
Tribe has turned on a "lifetime of belief"? Did you read the article? Tribe is one of the nation's foremost experts in constitutional law; he has never been on an anthropomorphic climate change hustler! Liberals just cannot stand it when someone falls off the groupthink train, and you can read all of the ad hominem (and therefore meritless) attacks on this guy.
Rodger Lodger (NYC)
In a brief comment you psychoanalyze Tribe and diminish him as "confused older man", and decide he's betrayed "belief" out of spite and money. Nothing in your comment about the role of an advocate, which traditionally in the U.S. has been to serve the client, not your or anyone's or even his own particular policies. Are defense lawyers old, confused, and betraying their belief that murder is evil?
Fred (Kansas)
Mr Tribe was hired by an oil company. They have a vested interest in a opposing climate change which will lower their profits. So hiring a well known attorney adds respect.
Geno Garibaldi (Chicago)
Sadly, climate alarmists are nothing more than Chicken Little.
japarfrey (Denver, Colorado)
And shame on him for letting them get that respect.
Mauloa (Babb, Montana)
Since Laurence Tribe was such an ardent supporter of Obama - why would I trust him now because I agree with his comment/arguments? If Obama could fool him so totally earlier - I question his motives. He IS being paid to represent the company big bucks. Is Mr. Tribe driven by actual conviction or the almighty dollar? It's sad that today we have become "so jaded" we don't swallow anything anymore. Lies do not work after a while.
Montreal Moe (WestPark, Quebec)
Mr Tribe is a constitutional scholar. I love and appreciate the American constitution, iit is a foundational document in creating democracy but it is 2015 not 1775. I live in a democracy and my constitution is less than 35 years old and may soon need major upgrades.
The American constitution is an historical document of tremendous importance but watching as America slips into a perpetual battle over anachronistic precepts is very disheartening. I would thoroughly enjoy watching Mr Tribe and President Obama debate the constitutionality of Peabody's environmental degradation if it were purely a academic exercise without real world consequences. I can see Mr Tribe being correct on the constitution but unfortunately we pay too heavy a price where being right on the constitution is too big a price for social justice and a better world.
Angelito (Denver)
Mr. Tribe is not the only luminary, a dazzlig star in his constitutional field, whose success or reputation goes to his head and then decide to meddle in things for which he has no real credentials, environmental climate science being one of them. The "constitutional" overreach claimed by Republicans , the tyrannical Obama who behaves like a dictator, etc., etc., is an excuse to continue doing nothing. Dictatorship is Bush sending the country intoi a war based on lies and deception, costing trillions, killing hundreds of thousands, and because of his ignorance, accomplishing absolutely nothing. It has not made the US or the Middle East any safer. The Wolrd is actually a more dangerous place. He invigorated the radicals.
Mr. Tribe made a big mistake because he now has tarnished his reputation. (It is akin to experts in the Health Field who then begin endorsing products and devices of very poor scientifically proven medical value just to make a few more bucks). I feel sorry for him. He is just like many other guys, who out of greed sell their souls to the higest bidder. Another has been!
gladRocks (Houston, TX)
Tribe is a expert in constitutional law. He does need to be a climate scientist to make an argument in court about climate science when the issue is whether or not the EPA has the authority under the clean air act to close coal plants.
NYHuguenot (Charlotte, NC)
Tribe is not arguing environmental issues. He is arguing Constitutional restrictions and over reach. How can one have an opinion as you do when you cannot even define the issue?
Jimi (Cincinnati)
For people - like McConnell who oppose significant restrictions to polluting agents like coal & efforts to develop alternative energy - because they claim evidence is not conclusive - how do they live with themselves. The stakes are so high as we have devastating draughts & climate change that will impact our survival. The consequences are so high, wouldn't any rational person say we have to curtail these polluting agents in desperation to save the earth & its resources, even if it turns out that some are not the cause (which I don't believe)? How could anyone play cat and mouse with such high stakes - just to be re elected or line their pockets with gold today?
NYHuguenot (Charlotte, NC)
How do we live with ourselves? Perhaps we aren't gullible enough to believe that 10,000 years of climate cannot be extrapolated and massaged with a computer program with less than 150 years of climate records. That and the scandals that have come from a few "scientists" who have had to adjust their hypotheses and have been caught lying in emails. We aren't fooled by the name change from global warming to climate change as you realized that the planet wasn't heating up as fast as you'd predicted. We're also remembering the hand wringing presented in the 1970s about
global cooling" that never occurred.
Frank Greathouse (Fort Myers fl)
Tribe:traitor for CASH. If the coal industry and the Koch brothers had put as much energy and money into clean coal research and development as they have in fighting regulations, there might actually be such a thing as "clean coal". No corporation should be allowed to poison its citizens and foul the planet.
I finally get it!! (South Jersey)
If one actually read this article and Tribe's brief, one may be able to see that Tribe's attack is on Congress and reconciliation committe who passed this bill. The executive branch is merely attempting something that should have been attempted many years ago in order to make a positive and meaningful change to the global warming and ridiculous coal belching energy industry. The executive branch is attempting to use a tool in the tool box given to it by the legislative branch. Tribe's brief addresses the alleged poor writing of the enabling legislation the EPA is acting on. The Rs would do, and I am confident have done, the same thing during the last 8 years they were in office too.

The bigger question is whether coal is still cheaper than natural gas per BTU. If these power plants were converted to natural gas how much more expensive would that be? The public would be willing to absorb that cost spread out over the millions of consumers is the benefit was actually communicated in a non-'tax' partisan right verse wrong, or left verse right manner. Maybe the Koch brothers can defray that cost increase with the $970 million they have pledged to the 2016 election cycle? Maybe that money, together with the Adelsohn pledged funds could purchase solar panels for every home in this country? Between that idea and electric cars and electric lawn mowers maybe we could cut emissions and energy dependence on the coal belt and the Middle East? Kill two birds with one stone.
mabraun (NYC)
Eventually solar energy collecting devices will pass the 20% efficiency mark routinely and then it will actually be cheaper to use sunlight then coal or gas.. Our biggest mistake as a species and a nation, was in not adopting nuclear power in the time frame when it would have done the most good.
Whether or not the laws are enforced the economics of solar energy will eventually make the coal industry into a class students study in the history of science and engineering.
Julia (Santa Monica, California)
I am deeply saddened that Tribe of all people is representing this case, as I believe this will be one of Obama's most important achievements. However, I do not believe ad hominem attacks against Mr. Tribe will win anyone over, and most importantly, they do not win SCOTUS cases. Let it be decided on its legal merits. I certainly hope that the Clean Power Plan will prevail, but if not, I hope we make climate action one of the top priorities in the next elections.
Peter V (St. Louis)
Since when have good lawyers only taken cases that align with their moral compasses? The essence of the liberal agenda seems to be one of attacking anyone they don't agree with, regardless their past and the law.
curtis dickinson (Worcester)
Mr Tribe is a man who speaks with the wisdom that comes from knowledge and experience. Politics do not affect his thinking. President Obama needs to swallow his ego and listen to Mr Tribe, not his shouting cohorts of liberalism.
outis (no where)
When it comes to physics, why should not President Obama listen to scientists instead of to a constitutional lawyer?
outis (no where)
No, Mr. Obama is correct. He should listen to scientists. The Constitution will not help us deal with climate change. The writers of the Constitution did not know about it.
Markk (Seattle)
400 years ago, people like you condemned Galileo for pointing out reality. In those days, reactionaries labeled truth as heretical. Today, they try to make liberalism into a dirty word. But the truth is the earth rotates around the sun. And yes - the truth is that big industry is poisoning the planet.
Dan Denisoff (Poughquag, NY)
Star pupil? How would we ever know? President Obama has never released any of his transcripts or shared any information about his university years. A perfect example of his lack of transparency and the medias special treament of this president.
ThePlainsman (Virginia)
Give it a rest. He's never running for office again. He graduated with honors from Harvard Law School. Enough said.
Robert H Cowen (Fresh Meadows)
Maybe he is still hoping to be appointed to the Supreme Court and realizes that he would need Republican support.
LazyBum (USA)
Or perhaps he knows a scam when he sees one. No where have I seen this mans integrity challenged. But now that he refused to compliment the emperor's new clothes I am sure he will be destroyed by the tolerant left.
Paul (Pittsburgh)
Laurence Tribe is the last of soon to be extinct breed, a leftist who actually still believes the law matters, the Constitution and the republic it set up have value and the US should have a President not a dictator that imposes their view.

That's "why so many in the Obama administration and at Harvard are bewildered and angry" because to the modern leftist these things mean nothing and its wielding unlimited power to achieve their irrational goals is all that matters. The law, Constitution and limits on Presidential authority are merely obstacles to be destroyed no matter the ultimate cost.

Many of the comments here in support of this lawless administration reflect how deep the arrogance of the left, the sickness and radicalism of Progressives run in the modern Democrat Party ... any and every excuse to tarnish a Constitutional icon like Tribe except the one that's most obvious; that they're simply wrong and out of control.

Belief in their issues on the part those who remain supportive of Barack Obama pales in comparison to the belief in their own infallibility and that is truly frightening thing to behold.
bmack (Kentucky, United States)
It's just too bad people like you have to go so far out in left field. Rather than ever address the issues at hand, you name call.
We've heard it all; Kenyan, Muslim, Dictator. Yet not as single one of these accusations hold water or can in any way be factually proven.
If you don't like clean air et al, then argue for filthy poisoned air based on its merits, not on delusional thinking.
GGBound (Brunswick, Georgia)
"To many Democrats and professors at Harvard, Mr. Tribe is a traitor."

To many Americans, Democrats and professors at Harvard are traitors
DMATH (East Hampton, NY)
GGBound's comment succinctly summarizes the article and our situation on climate change with the ultimate arbiter, Science, standing on the sidelines. History is written by the victor, and Science always wins in the end. Unless the two sides figure out a compromise and DO something, the history may be written on cave walls when modern civilization collapses. There is a choice that both sides could embrace, a fee and dividend approach, that meets every Conservative goal, and reduces emissions by 50% in 20 years. There is not much time left.
Lazy Bum (USA)
Yup. Well said.
Markk (Seattle)
Mr Tribe is a traitor to the truth - the truth - that industry is poisoning the planet on which we all live.
DavidC (Toronto, Canada)
I am deeply concerned about the environmental catastrophe that will unfold if we can't dramatically reduce our CO2 emissions. And I hate coal just as much as the next sentient creature. But the ad hominem angle of this article really sidetracks an intelligent discussion of the environmental and legal issues at stake. These are too important to be subsumed in a breathless parable about a famous former student, a wayward professor, and the petty social comeuppance that awaits on the liberal cocktail circuit. Please leave sanctimonious tut-tutting at opposing counsel to lesser publications and focus on the merits of the constitutional law and environmental regulation issues here at stake.
Markk (Seattle)
"Liberal cocktail circuit"? Try Conservative corporate puppets.
Klatnu (Does It matter)
Just figure out a way to modify the Krebs Cycle so it doesn't produce CO2 :-)
Christine McMorrow (Waltham, MA)
Appalling. Why, I ask, why?

I can't believe Prof. Tribe actually believes in the virtues of coal. It's gotta be about his fees. To think Prof Tribe would throw away an entire body of legal research and standing as a liberal jurist to become a shill for coal is a sad indictment on the power of money to make people do unthinkable things

When leading thinkers and legal scholars put their minds up for sale, it's no different from super PACS intruding on the electoral process.

The United States of America: land of the rich and up for sale always to the highest bidder. Even when it comes to hiring a legal liberal gun who will "ride the horse for buying of selling."
diane in michigan (michigan)
It isn't clear that Mr. Tribe does believe in the merits of coal based on this article. He does believe apparently in the constitutional rights of the coal industry, however.
zb (bc)
Lets give Mr. Tribe the benefit of every doubt when it comes to his interpretation and motivation of the law.

But then lets ask of all the cases Mr. Tribe might pick to involve himself on principle and even when it comes to any personal financial benefit (which he is certainly entitled to consider) the question arises why would he pick a case that he fully knows will make him a tool of the rightwing that has fought against everything he has ever stood for - and everyone he has stood with - through his entire career.

Could he have possibly not known his name will be plastered over every future attack on the President and everything that liberals stand for in the future. In choosing how he spends his time was this the one and only case, the one and only issue, and was he the one and only person that could see justice done for a multi billion dollar industry? Was the harm it will do to so many other issues important to Mr.. Tribe worth giving his enemies such ammunition? No matter how Mr. Tribe felt is this not a case he could have sat out? Was there no other case that screamed out louder in need of his representation?

It makes one wonder just what Mr. Tribe was thinking. Or maybe that he just wasn't thinking at all.
Mary (North Carolina)
Maybe, he is just wanting to make sure we abide by the law and not a popularity contest.
gael (Ny Ny)
From whence do these ridiculous claims arise? " the question arises why would he pick a case that he fully knows will make him a tool of the rightwing that has fought against everything he has ever stood for " Do you even know what 'the rightwing" means (not to liberal haters of course, but to American thinkers?) in what universe have conservative thinkers (or coal industry supporters, or constitutionalists, or any child with some civics education, for that matter) fought against "everything [Tribe] has ever stood for"?!? He's a lawyer!!! He believes in our Constitution! (that's a yay! for non liberal haters)
The comments here attacking this guy are unbelievable! He's addressing the constitutional rights of an industry to protect its business! just wow!
srwdm (Boston)
Tribe—well on in years—seems to be gray-zoning.

It's probably time for him to academically retire.
NRroad (Northport, NY)
This is a delicious example of the fundamental problem with current liberal political agendas in the U.S., irrespective of the objective merits of their causes. The belief that their causes are virtuous and that therefore all means that advance them are or should be legitimate bears a chilling resemblance to the rationales of 20th century fascists and totalitarians everywhere. To such advocates constitutional obstacles merely demonstrate defects in understanding of the "true" meaning of the constitution. Terminal narcissism at its worst. Ironic that we have to rely on the right wing to protect us from such "virtue".
Marlowe (USA)
Well put! I usually summarize it this way, Liberalism trumps ALL.
S (MC)
Laurence Tribe is no different than any other limousine liberal collecting a paycheck at their white-shoe law firm. It was ALWAYS about the money, paying lip service to liberal causes at dinner parties or voting democratic for that matter is a useless gesture when you do everything in your power for 70 hours a week to increase the wealth of the managerial class you tell your friends you really loathe but that you (secretly) admire so much.
Alan (Los Angeles)
Typical liberals. If I think something is good, it must be constitutional, and anyone who disagrees with me on that is evil. Tribe has the nerve to disagree with liberals' desire, so he must be demonized. After all, no rational person could ever disagree with a liberal on the merits, because a liberal is always right.
outis (no where)
"Liberals desire" -- is this as much as you know of the science of climate change?
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
It's interesting that none of the liberal posters here opened the link to Tribe's brief, which lays out his legal arguments. It's easier to rely on the article's quotes from those who assert his arguments are ridiculous. The author of the article also did not apparently read the brief, since it is irrelevant to his belief that Tribe has been bought by the coal industry.

The end does not always justify the means, and the EPA's proposed regulations appear to be illegal.

Why didn't the Obama administration push for regulation in the first two years of his Presidency? Because even a Democrat Congress would not have agreed to this proposal.
SHaronC (Park City)
There was only a 60 seat Democratic Senate for two MONTHS. Senator Franken admission to the Senate was held up due challenges and recounts. Then within two months, Senator Kennedy's cancer took him. So sadly there was just a very small time that President Obama had the super majority and for his entire presidency the Republicans have fought him tooth and nail, the night of his inauguration.
mannyv (portland, or)
What the Democrats say: we're the party of inclusion. What Democrats do: if you don't toe the line, you're a traitor and we'll use ad-hominem attacks to destroy you.

Legal rights don't go away when someone is doing something distasteful. Legal positions don't get stronger if you're not getting paid. Is a homeless and broke lawyer more credible than any law professor or practitioner?
seanseamour (Mediterranean France)
Ah, he must have received an offer he could not refuse, like many a congressman far more avid to follow the money trail than the voter trail. Public opinion and the ballot have been drowned in the luridly denominated "Citizens United" decision, it is no wonder we have the best politicians money can buy.
Jackson25 (Dallas)
It's funny how the left expects everyone to toe the line on EVERY issue or they're banded "traitors." Not one dissenting view. How narrow minded and pathetic. Don't go thinking for yourself on the issues, our camp has all the answers!

Tribe is far left on every other issue, but one single deviance, or the nerve to challenge King Obama, and he's completely shut out. How sad.
Julia (Santa Monica, California)
Tribe disagrees on the law, not the climate science.
The Scold (Oregon)
Some of you might have a hard time making the connection but you need to inconvenience yourselves and vote in 2016.
Bruce (Oakland)
Like the rest of our institutions, the constitution will mean nothing when people have messed up the world so much that civilization as we know it is no longer supportable. Those who are left will look at us and say, "They did this to us just so they could die with more money!"
Martha Shelley (Portland, OR)
It seems to me that the relevant questions are not Constitutional ones but scientific ones: does burning coal increase greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming, rising sea levels, etc? Does it cause acidification of the oceans and the destruction of sea life? If these things are true, regulating the coal industry to cut emissions is a matter of human survival. Mr. Tribe's personality, his politics, the amount of pay he receives from Peabody Energy, and the snide remarks from commentators about "the Left" are not relevant at all.

The Supreme Court needs to base its decision on the science, not the politics. Unfortunately, given its current makeup, I'm not exactly optimistic.
Southern Agitator (The South)
science has been compromised and politicized. No point in looking at science as the data has been cooked.
kramtesi (Cincinnati OH)
Actually you are wrong, the rule of law trumps science. If you don't like the law change it. IF you can't change the law, too bad. There is no society without respect for law. (I'm not making any judgement on the merits of this case, merely your statement that science trump law). The role of Supreme Court is merely to interpret/enforce the rule of law.
Julia (Santa Monica, California)
No one involved in this case refutes the overwhelming evidence or doubts the global scientific consensus on climate change. SCOTUS recognizes that public, political debate is not in line with the actual science and has stated so in a previous ruling involving the EPA. At that time, the EPA was trying to avoid regulating auto emissions because it was not in line with Bush policy. The SCOTUS opinion stated: "policy judgments have nothing to do with whether greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change and do not amount to a reasoned justification for declining to form a scientific judgment."

This case will be strictly about the law, as it should be.
CMH (Sedona, Arizona)
I guess Harvard's salary levels just didn't come up to Tribe's level of self-esteem, so he went shopping, or Peabody -- one of the worst, most dishonest polluters on the planet (ask the Navajos and Hopis) -- went shopping for him. What a way to end a career.
bradfregger (Austin, TX)
Again progressives prove their continuing efforts to destroy anyone who leaves the plantation. Mind celebrate Tribe who stands by his honest convictions regardless of the attacks; which he surely must have known would be coming. Tribe is on the right side of this issue, supporting the constitution and the limits on federal governments, especially out-if-control bureaucracies.
NoCommonNonsense (Spain)
Further sign of the utter debacle of representative democracy. The world needs to come up urgently with a better way to govern itself than giving power to a few sleazy operators with lots of sophistry and greed in their briefcases. We need a path to direct democracy and the erasure of the political class.
Joel Sanders (Montclair, NJ)
Quoting the article: “That a leading scholar of constitutional matters has identical views as officials of a coal company — that his constitutional views are the same as the views that best promote his client — there’s something odd there.” How about this: That leading climate scientists have the same views as the government who funds them -- there's something odd there.
Dotty Kyle (Warren VT)
Sorry, Joel, your "how about this" has more than a few holes in it: "the leading climate scientists" are scientists world-wide - thousands of them - who have done the research and know the science. They are certainly not all funded by the US government. Members of our government who use their brains know enough to accept, and follow, the advice of climate scientists. What's truly odd is that our government is not spending more on scientific research and development - and creating laws that will advance the conclusions of that research. There's not a lot of time left to act.
Alexandra J. Baran (Palo Alto, CA)
What is truly offensive about these posted comments is that very few of you seem to have read the U.S. Constitution. Try it some time. It's a beautifully written document. I believe that Prof. Tribe does have his head in a cloud somewhere, but I would be privileged to join him there. He doesn't need anybody's money these days and those who suggest that he has sold his soul to a devilish coal company are just plain silly. President Obama may have been the best legal research assistant Prof. Tribe has ever had, but he's never been a good lawyer. I'll leave you to figure out what I think of him as a President.
Monty (OCONUS)
The author of this article was able to find many sources who disagreed with Mr. Tribe, but most all of them made superficial attacks essentially calling Prof. Tribe a sell out to the coal industry. Claims such as "ridiculous", or that the claims are "baseless". I did't see the author quote any legal scholars who may have supported Prof. Tribe. What I did not see in the article was a decent explanation of the actual argument Prof. Tribe is making.
NoCommonNonsense (Spain)
This "scholar" loves the smell of money.
Patrick (Long Island NY)
Technically, people use way too much electricity and conservation by millions of people would reduce emissions more than laws. Do your part to save electricity and if you don't care about that, do you care about saving your money?

My Motto..........Is It ON?..........Turn It OFF!!!
Karl (Amsterdam)
An estimate of the amount of money Mr. Tribe will receive for his efforts would be instructive... and mind boggling.
scratchbaker (AZ unfortunately)
Oh please, Mr. Tribe. Your Christmas stocking should contain a lump of coal. It's too easy to follow the money from the polluting coal industry right into your pockets.
S.R. Simon (Bala Cynwyd, Pa.)
Lawrence Tribe was given an office, a chair, and a desk at the Department of Justice because he personally asked the President (a former student) for something to do there and the President directed Justice to set something up for him. But Tribe was given no work, and was left to wander about, day after day, with little or nothing to do. Naturally, he felt demeaned, disregarded, and generally "dissed," as any one of us would feel in the same situation. It was this disregard and disrespect that gnawed away at him, which explains why Tribe jettisoned a lifetime of scholarship and teaching to ally himself to an arch-enemy of the Administration, the coal industry.
RM (Honolulu)
sinility? competent to "stand" trial (albeit as plaintiff not defendant)?
Richard Luettgen (New Jersey)
So much of this piece demonizes what indeed is an "iconic" professor of law for apparently believing that presidential power has limits, and that impositions on broad swaths of American culture and commerce require support from Congress -- enough support to clothe them in legitimacy. For this he's described by liberals as a "traitor"; yet, if it were a Republican president who was attempting such impositions, the cries from the left of "fascism" would drown out all rational debate.
Nobody (Nowhere special)
Follow the money....
weahkee95 (long island)
Alas, like medecin, another example of the evolution of a profession to a business.
outis (no where)
Clearly, our Constitution, our Democracy, are dooming us when it comes to battling climate change.

When there is no future, when there is no Democracy, who will really care that Mr. Tribe thought he and the coal companies had the winning argument on the Constitution.
JW (Texas)
I hope he is a "Trojan Horse" and secretly sabotages Peabody's legal case.
Samir Hafza (Beirut, Lebanon)
We shouldn't be too concerned. So what if he is scholar and professor. He argued on behalf of Gore and lost.

I am betting on Research Assistant Obama over Professor Tribe.
Julia (Santa Monica, California)
Well, now will people finally accept that he went to Harvard?
Descarado (Las Vegas)
The problem is Columbia where no one remembers him.
Principia (St. Louis)
Tribe's miniature brief and midget arguments are complete fantasy. Tribe was purchased for his celebrity and, therefore, he's selling his celebrity to the highest bidding polluter.

Tribe will lose, just like he lost 9-0 when he represented GE in 2000. Tribe claimed that the Clean Air Act's ambient air quality standards were unconstitutional. Scalia wrote the opinion for an unanimous Supreme Court.

"Liberal" is an overused word, especially at Harvard. One's views on social policy alone does not a liberal make.
Armo (San Francisco)
What arrogance. "I expect I will play a role in the supreme court decision". The hubris within the world of these myopic creatures is astounding. Line your pockets and sell your soul. How do those people sleep at night?
gw (usa)
Men argue. Nature acts.
Lipo Davis (Pensacola, FL)
All reasonable people understand that climate change is simply not a problem. Climate change is normal. There is no crisis. Carbon Dioxide is not a pollutant. Mr. Tribe is on the side of moral righteousness and scientific rigor.
Joel Sanders (Montgomery, AL)
"All" is a very inclusive word. None of the thousands of
jeoffrey (Paris)
This may be the most troubling part of the article: "Although Mr. Obama has been speaking publicly since 2013 of his use of the Clean Air Act to carry out climate change regulations, Mr. Tribe said that he was unaware of the regulations until last fall." I knew about the Administration's use of the Clean Air Act, and I am just a teacher of English literature. How could Tribe not have known? It's like Scalia not reading the Times. It's troubling that the people debating the most important public policies don't seem at all well-informed.
Ipso Facto (Washington DC)
I am a lawyer. One thing I learned in law school is that everybody is entitled to representation, no matter how unpopular their views or their cause. Indeed, it is especially important that those whose views or cause are unpopular are not precluded from access to representation by that fact alone. Where would our constitutional law be if only popular causes were able to get representation?
Paul (Pittsburgh)
Your views fail to account for the reality that the modern Democrat Party and the radical Progressives no longer believe in the ideas that you touched upon. "Everybody is entitled to representation?" Not in their view of how government should function, essentially as an all powerful unencumbered weapon to impose their will.

You answered your own question with your question; "Where would our constitutional law be if only popular causes were able to get representation?" In the dustbin of history where Progressives have always argued it belongs.

Today's leftist and Democrats don't believe in the Constitution, the law applied equally, limits on government or any of the concepts of the now essentially dead republic. They believe in their own infallibility and their inherent right to impose their views in any fashion they see fit.
Philip Boxell (Boulder, CO)
I have reason as much as anyone to consider Laurence Tribe a traitor. But rather I have great respect for him standing on legal principles.

I worked for the Philadelphia ACLU in the 1970's when Justice Ginsburg was head of the Women's Rights Project. And then I went on to a career first with EPA Region I where I served as co-counsel for the first Superfund trial and one of our longest environmental trials from December 1983 to June 1987. The DOJ fully supported this effort. But some Reagan Regional EPA officials mocked the trial and in 1988 I left EPA. I then spent time with large firms and a corporation in Boston and Philadelphia as I watched President Clinton delegate much of the federal environmental authority to the states in his ReInvent Government effort. I would return to Boston where I worked for the Mass DEP from 2001 to 2004 while Governor Romney cut the state environmental resources by 30 to 50% (I do not recall the precise number). We would like so many Americans go on to lose everything in the ensuing cutbacks and recession.

Today it is no small irony to watch EPA run by a Republican. Governor Patrick did the same by keeping many Republicans. So why do I support Laurence Tribe? I support him for many of the reasons that inspired me when I began my career with Justice Marshall already as a legend and now Justice Ginsburg in the wings. In the end we must support the rule of law.
michjas (Phoenix)
Many of the comments here suggest that coal companies have no rights. It is a fundamental principle of the Constitution that the most offensive among us have all the same rights as the well-intended.
craig geary (redlands, fl)
Does that include a "right" to poison our air, water, cause premature death and turn the oceans into sulfuric acid baths?
Samarkand (Los Angeles, California)
I still don't understand how people like this sleep at night. Doesn't Tribe realize that the planet he's fouling is the same one he lives on? I know he has at least one grandchild. Does he not even care about his own family's future?
Justice Holmes (Charleston)
There was once a time when Tribe was actually committed to the law but now its all about the checks and the publicity. Too bad. He once was a giant.
James Miller (Earlysville, Virginia)
Tribe must be for sale, too. Unless he's doing this pro bono, he must be gettiong quite a retainer to represent the coal interests--known to be one of the biggest generators of greenhouse gases in this country.

I, for one, am at least relieved taht this unprincipled man never made it to the Supreme Court. And I hope he never does.
michjas (Phoenix)
Mr. Tribe has represented GE in a couple of cases against the EPA, arguing in one that the Superfund law is unconstitutional. It would appear that he has a bent against the EPA that goes well beyond this case. Mr. Tribe has also written a couple of books on environmental law, dating back 45 years. He's not exactly acting secretively. To accuse him of selling out without reading his writings on environmental law is irresponsible.
Vail Beach (Los Angeles, CA)
Seriously? Calling coal power a "bedrock" of the economy is controversial because a few professors disagree? You don't have to love coal or love anything about the pollution it causes at every point in its cycle of extraction and use to understand the truth of Tribe's statement. Just spend a month in the electricity industry. A week. We are still very far away from "getting off coal." It's a great goal. We should all get behind that goal. But we need to be realistic about how quickly this can be done without causing serious economic dislocations. And because it is dangerous to move too quickly on matters of such gravity is why... our presidents, even the most well-intentioned, need to be constrained by that genius little document, the Constitution of the United States. That's all Tribe is fighting for. To rectify the balance of powers so that policy making can go forward but with the brakes engaged.
Conrad Spearcy (Holdridge, Nebraska)
What's the take away here...climate science is decided by lawyers? While more ambitious climate commitments could be made in the coming years, a nearby and unimaginably enormous fusion reactor is converting protons into helium nuclei. Said reactor is 1.3 million times larger than (and one astronomical unit from) the climate in question... where temperatures may rise, or fall, or form an new statistical average. That has been the case for at least two billion years.
"Science is a culture of doubt. We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty." ~Richard Feynman
Colenso (Cairns)
For goodness sake. C'mon NYT, you should be able to do better than this. State the most congruent fact, missing from this account. Exactly how much is Tribe being paid?
craig geary (redlands, fl)
The real question is:
Who gave Big Carbon the right to use our shared atmosphere and water as their own free toxic waste dump?

Every household and business has to pay for waste disposal. But not, apparently, Big Carbon.
Angelino (Los Angeles, CA)
What do you really believe Mr. Tribe, turning California into Rub-A-Khali for a few mil? You threw a monkey wrench into the mix that nobody else can sort it out. Does the US Constitution tells you that you can royally destroy the Western US with huge chunks of the productive, and life supporting parts of globe because some 18th Century guys said it is OK. If the global warming or the desertification is not mentioned in the constitution you are home free to muck up the place?
Mack (Los Angeles CA)
One of the most dangerous places in the world may be between Larry Tribe and money. See, for example, the decision of the United States Court of Appeals in Grendel's Den v. Larkin, 749 F.2d 945 (1st Cir. 1984)(criticizing Professor Tribe and his claim for attorney's fees and costs, disallowing more than 50% as unreasonable, inflated, unsubstantiated by records, or excessive).
Carolyn Egeli (Valley Lee, Md)
Is coal deserving of such defense..the black earth burned, releasing tons of mercury and soot into the atmosphere of the world, making it hard for people to breathe, shortening lives, deeply scarring mountains and leaching poisons into their drinking water. Is this what Mr. Tribe is working for? I had a test for toxins and discovered acute levels of mercury and explosives. Where did this stuff come from? I live downwind from White Point power plant and Dalghren proving grounds on the Potomac River in Md. I've lived here for almost 70 years. Imagine what must be in the waters of the Potomac! It finds its orgins in the coal mecca of West Virginia.
MarkB3699 (Santa Cruz, CA)
Mr. Tribe's "conversion" has to be one of the most obvious sellouts in history.
Mark Crozier (Free world)
"I'm not for sale..." Yeah, right. So he's doing this out of compassion for the poor beleaguered coal companies, is that what we're meant to believe?
Bruce (Gainesville)
Just a reminder that SCOTUS decides on the basis of power politics and has virtually no concern for common sense, public decency, or the Constitution.
Tiny Tim (<br/>)
To be more fair, I would say not all of the Supreme Court, just the majority.
Dave (Texas)
This article is a perfect example of how far liberals in this country have gone off the tracks. And, I'm not talking about the intellectually honest liberal law professor who actually has the integrity and courage to challenge the massive liberal power block in control of the executive branch, most government bureaucracies, academia and the media. America is starving for intellectually honest liberals like Professor Tribe.
MarkB3699 (Santa Cruz, CA)
Gee Dave, are you going to still be saying this years from now when your children are suffering the effects of global warming. It's not intellectually dishonest to want to be cautious when it comes to possibly causing permanent damage to the climate system. What is intellectually dishonest is the type of attitude that ignores established science in favor of industry sponsored "research" and takes a view based on spiteful regard of political opposition. There's simply no excuse for pretending we don't have a real problem. Yours and other Republicans are simply not conservative enough on this matter. Wouldn't it make more sense to be cautious?
Honolulu (honolulu)
Right wingers seem to call centrists "liberal." Obama is centrist: liberal on a few issues, right-wing on others, and centrist on most. The old print media was liberal, but the new visual/digital media is mostly conservative/right wing (e.g., Fox "News"). I don't know about bureaucracies but as we've seen in Ferguson and Staten Island, most police are right wing.
S (MC)
Yeah, come on liberals - think of our poor, oppressed, coal companies, for once.
Miriam (San Rafael, CA)
Yes, Peabody, the underhanded coal company that had the Hopi lawyer double cross them, while actually working for Peabody to ensure they got control of Hopi lands for mining, that most of the Hopi were opposed to. Ruthless, totally lacking in ethics, or apparently, concern for the future of life on this planet. But hey, that's business. Right, Mr. Tribe? I guess ethics isn't a course you taught at Harvard Law. Shame on you.
tom (bpston)
As was emphasized by my Legal Ethics professor at Harvard Law School on the first day of class, legal ethics and morality are two distinct categories.
David Appell (Salem, OR)
I really do not understand Tribe's position. In Mass v EPA (2007), the Supreme Court ruled carbon dioxide meets the definition of a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and that therefore the EPA was obligated to regulate it.
Ralph J. Steinberg (Santa Cruz, Ca.)
Mr Tribe may claim that he did not sell out, and I would take him at his word if had announced that he was was representing the coal company pro bono, as a matter of principle. Alternatively, he should disclose what he is being paid for his legal services. I bet its an eye-popping amount! Mr Tribe, you have clay feet!
Bensa (Magos)
I'm sure Mr Tribe's compensation is sizable. It would be interesting to compare his compensation to all the revenue streams from carbon credits and other fraudulent taxation and fees from the hoax that is 'climate change'. Were is all the outrage for the misappropriation of funds that is this government mandated and unconstitutional AGW racketeering? Oh I forgot, you haven't caught up to reality yet.
mtrav (Asbury Park, NJ)
He doesn't have to, under law, reveal his payment for legal services, you can just guess. No other lawyer gives that information in any case.
S. Pennington (Washington)
It is clear that President Obama has no compunction about violating the Constitution in the name of the "greater good" and for all of mankind. His particular mindset is not at all uncommon amongst those on the Left. They believe that they are the only ones with pure motives and are bequeathed special intellectual powers that make them better able to take care of all of us lesser beings. It is good the Professor Tribe remembers that the Constitution does matter; because some day, he realizes that the shoe will be on the other foot.
outis (no where)
Does our constitution trump science and the lives of people around the world? Ecosystems and species of wild animals around the world?

Such appalling selfishness.
Klatnu (Does It matter)
So not everyone deserves their day in court, is that it? And Tribe is somehow a sell out because his view on this doesn't align with the "correct" view?

Do you really want to bet the farm on science projections that may not have the desired impacts?
Justice Holmes (Charleston)
Energy companies are not wandering the halls looking for lawyers to defend them. Unfortunately for the humans in this country the only "people" who actually get their day in court are corporations; all others are either frozen out or plea bargained. Corporations are filling up the courts with their business cases while their representatives in congress make sure that injured consumers and workers cannot get in the doors.
NoCommonNonsense (Spain)
In other words: Coal is the end of the history of human development. Only oil and coal companies know what is best for Humanity, and that will never, ever change in all of eternity.
Asher B. (Santa Cruz)
Actually, I didn't want to "bet the farm" at all, but that's fairly literally what we've done. I'm infuriated by the deceit and ignorance in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence from every credible source that climate change is occurring and that coal is exactly at the center of the problem. And please don't raise the issue of "correctness" of views as though all of this is being done in order to fit fashions. Mandating reduction of poisons that are killing us isn't merely correct, it's a moral obligation.
John Turner (Massapequa Park)
Tribe's argument and perspective would carry a great deal more weight if they weren't the same as the arguments and perspective of the fossil fuel industry for which he has clearly become a shill.
Ozzone (FarFarAway)
Actually his argument is a good one. The E.P.A. has exceeded it's Constitutional authority and continues to do so.
Slooch (Staten Island)
Hey, they are going to be the same as somebody's views, aren't they?
Flayer (Cupertino, CA)
"Jody Freeman, director of the environmental law program at Harvard Law School, and Richard Lazarus, an expert in environmental law expert..."
For whom are Jody and Richard shills?
Montreal Moe (WestPark, Quebec)
Mr Tribe like President Obama are constitutional scholars.
The constitution was written long before there was even a hint of democracy in the English speaking world. There have been many songs written about Peabody Coal which is notorious for its treatment of its people and their environment but the USA is not a Democracy and speaking constitutionally the Magna Carta has more sway legally than the nascent democracy that the electorate aborted in 1980.
Justice Holmes (Charleston)
Obama is not a Constitutional scholar and Tribe is now a hired gun.
Dave (Pa)
Flayer (Cupertino, CA)
Wow! I can't even begin to correct all your inaccuracies, starting with the claim that Obama is a "constitutional scholar." He was a guest lecturer, lowest rung in the ranks of academia, where he perched for a very short time. Your comments go downhill from there.
BruddahNui (US)
What do liberals do when they can't argue the facts. Personal attacks. Let the mud slinging begin. Tribe, a liberal will be viciously attacked for not carrying Obama's water. Even though he's right. We all know that the coal and oil companies are the devil.
John McLaughlin (NJ)
You want facts? Check out the facts from NASA et al. Yes, climate science is complicated but scientists have collected data that shows CO2 plays a critical role in climate change. Burning coal contributes to increasing the CO2 in our atmosphere which has consequences that impact global temperatures. Facts like these must play a central role in this case.
Susan Anderson (Boston)
It does rather seem as though he's been got at.

He has to be either delusional, stupid, or criminal.

srbenedicta (conveny)
If Mr. Tribe is indeed delusional, stupid or criminal, he suffers the same disorder as our president.
Slooch (Staten Island)
You mean, you disagree, but have no means of articulating your arguments?
Flayer (Cupertino, CA)
Why? Perhaps environmentalists who are really anti-capitalist Reds, not Greens, are the ones who either were "got at" or truly stupid. Come on, do you truly believe Obama or any government agency who owes its very existence to convince the easily convinced that they have any control of the climate? Should eerily like the Aztec priests who demanded sacrifices to the gods of rain: if it rained they could take credit; if it didn't rain they could blame those "selfish" conservatives who valued life for not giving enough of their lives for the "greater good" of the propagation of the power of the climate priests. Yes, I'm talking about you!
CK (Rye)
This will get laughs amongst left winger sheep, "He’s about to be banned from a lot of cocktail parties." It does not amuse me. I'd prefer the rebel at my parties, much better conversation when there is challenge and controversy.

I'm a left winger, too. But I treasure honest interpretation of the rule of law more than I treasure all the goals of the left if they have to be met by running over that law. This story, you will notice, does not present Mr Tribe's case, it plays social politics instead. This is laughable, because a simple statement of how Mr Tribe has it wrong would be more powerful than all the outrage over loyalty shifts and innuendo re who he agrees with. That's the beauty of an ironclad legal argument; it stands above the clamor.

Lacking the specifics I suspect Mr Tribe is probably correct, based on integrity and the social cowing used here as storyline.
NoCommonNonsense (Spain)
Regulating industry is now against the Constitution? Since when? And since when a "leftist" is against regulating capitalism? If you are a left winger, I am the Ghost of Christmas. Lots of "lefties" around this forum today, without a doubt with a money stake on the issue.
GBC (Canada)
Very well said. If you read Tribe's argument you will find it to be persuasive and sincere. Whether it is a winning argument, time will tell. What the article and the comments show you is that the left in America is as responsible for the rancor and the dysfunction in US government as is the right.
Tullymd (Bloomington, Vt)
Climate change will destroy our planet. You have made a tiny contribution to this result.
Impressed (Missouri)
It's quite interesting to read the many comments from the New York Times experts in man made global warming and the general corruption of coal companies. It would be interesting to see if their comments might change or if their time might be spent truly researching fact rather than the information the media provides, if when they flipped the switch, their lights don't come on..... Or, if their utility bill doubles or worse. Please, leave the emotional viewpoints behind, and be sure of the truth before you hold others accountable.
James Jordan (Falls Church, Va)
No question that coal is the "bedrock" of the U.S. economy & the economies of other nations that have advanced the standard of living for the World. It is critical to modern materials, especially steel. The World would not have advanced very far without fossil fuels. It became very popular with the discovery of electricity. Steam created by burning coal spun huge generators of copper wire to generate electricity. Economically advanced nations have set record breaking rates of combustion. This important fossil fuel along with oil & natural gas is the stuff of modern life, BUT now, we know that global combustion pollutes the atmosphere with carbon dioxide at a rate that exceeds the absorptive capacity of the Earth's natural sinks, like forests & oceans, leaving a saturated atmosphere that we have discovered warms the Earth. We have also learned that there have been previous surges of carbon into the atmosphere 56 million years ago that sent temperatures soaring resulting in dramatic changes in the flora, fauna & sea levels as the Earth lost its ice.

Oceans become more acid & shells will not form. The food web is changed & the food security of our species is in jeopardy.

No matter what sophistry can be teased out of the Constitution, It would not be wise for the World to continue to combust coal, oil, natural gas any longer than it has to. Our grandchildren & theirs deserve a better legacy. The Constitution does not give humankind to right to destroy civilization.
Castanea Sativa (USA)
"No question that coal is the "bedrock" of the U.S. economy & the economies of other nations that have advanced the standard of living for the World."

France is obviously not one of these nations!
Bob israel (Rockaway, NY)
"No matter what sophistry may be teased out of the Constitution?" Sounds like , the Constitution cannot stand before some progressives moral imperative.
Flayer (Cupertino, CA)
And yet, somehow the earth has been far better off when there has been plenty of carbon, multiples of the amount we now have. So, no, CO2 is not a pollutant. Notice how trees and shrubs along freeways all lean toward the cars, not away? Check it out the next time you are driving along a freeway. Plants are capable of growing away from what they do not like and toward what they like, like sun and CO2.
Mike Roddy (Yucca Valley, Ca)
Tribe is a disgrace to the legal profession, the country, and himself. He is- probably knowingly- taking a stand in favor of death and pollution, all for a few dollars.

We don't need more legal hustlers and angle shooters. They managed to sabotage solar in the Mojave Desert, enabling the revival of fracked natural gas. Meanwhile, Dubai, whose solar farms did not face lawsuits and spurious delays, is building a large solar farm for $,06 a kilowatt hour, less than even local natural gas.

They are the sheiks, but we are the chumps.
Air Marshal of Bloviana (Over the Fruited Plain)
Let's be honest, progressives are not so keen on intellectual freedom after all. The end here is justifying your means. The one man who has earned the breaks is pummeled by those he has diligently served, when he honestly could.
Flayer (Cupertino, CA)
What about the "delicate ecosystem" of the desert floor that would be destroyed by covering them with solar panels? All those endangered beetles and flora and stuff? Why do you hate those little animals and plants?
Air Marshal of Bloviana (Over the Fruited Plain)
Not to mention, so called High Speed Rail.
Bob Garcia (Miami)
I'm amazed over the years at how shamelessly venal many members of the legal profession are, both at the national level and here in my home town. They have no trouble representing the most sleazy, corrupt clients as long as the money flows into their pockets. If the money did not flow, they would not touch those clients, all the high-minded arguments would disappear. Which I guess puts them in the same company as more and more of our elected officials in Washington.
w (md)
Elected officials, most of whom are lawyers.
Flayer (Cupertino, CA)
Hate to break it to ya, but there's a LOT of money in the green/alternative energy market. Money provided by wealthy folks such as Tom Steyer and the unwilling Taxpayer via administrative fiat. The green-red folks don't even need to earn their money (Solyndra?). All they have to do is form an unholy alliance with the government who will then shower them with taxpayer riches which somehow finds its way back into the coffers of politicians.
Steve B. (St. Louis, Missouri)
While I may disagree with what Prof. Tribe has done in this instance, you miss the point about whether lawyers are less moral than others. When hired as advocates, their job is simple: put their client's best foot forward in the legal conflict in which the client is involved. Lawyers are not theologians, ethicists, social critics or social engineers. The theory is that when opposing parties are adequately represented, regardless how "sleazy" one or both of them may be, the truth and correct judgment will emerge when the judge or jury decides the facts and applies the law. I prefer this system to one where the lawyer decides which side in an argument has the morally superior position, a judgment which may or may not coincide with which party has the legally superior position. Ultimately, the decision should be left to someone not personally involved in the conflict--a judge or jury.
The attorney's first obligation and hence his or her interpretation of the law is to to first and foremost benefit his client. No mystery here.
Dude (www)
Tribe doesn't need clients. He's a scion of Harvard Law, for god's sake. He's probably got millions in the bank and doesn't need more to support an exorbitant lifestyle. He's 73 years old. What else does he have to live for except legacy of integrity?
Michael Richter (Ridgefield, CT)

In other words, an attorney has no responsibility to the truth or the common good of society?

Any attorney can decide to refuse to accept a client and his cause.
Carl Buehler (Florida)
I get it, for Tribe "the attorney's first obligation... is to first and foremost benefit his client", like defending a mass murderer, and in this case the mass murderer is an entire industry. Curious, what's his second obligation?
Helbock (Vacaville Ca)
"Mr. Tribe has eroded his credibility"
Only because he says something the commenter does not agree with.

I read professor Tribe's book on the Constitution and was very impressed with his candor and honesty in discussing constitutional issues when his obvious personal opinions do not agree with what the Constitution says.

It is not surprising that he is attacked personally, since this seems to be the way things are done now but a more specifically responsive discussion of his opinion would have been a lot more interesting and might have been convincing. The attacks limited to personal attacks tend to suggest he may be right.
giatny (nyc)
The left continues to demonize anyone who has a valid opposing view.
The arrogance of certitude from the left is tiresome. BTW: carbon
is not the control knob of the climate no matter many times the
greens insist it is.
Grove (Santa Barbara, Ca)
And air pollution is good for you !!
Scientists are trying to trick us into believing that car exhaust is bad for us too.

Burning coal is good for us !!
Car exhaust is also good for you !
Don't let the negative left tell you different.
It's all good !
Barry C (Kaua'i, HI)

The "opposing view" here is emphatically NOT valid. You're tripping over your transparent ideology in your haste to deride views opposing your own.
Honolulu (honolulu)
True, but so does the "right." Those opposing invasion of Iraq were labeled "traitors," "cowards," "un-American."
Kildare (El Cerrito, CA)
“Were Professor Tribe’s name not attached to them, no one would take them seriously,” say the environment lawyers. Meaning "no one we know," and thereby underlining the fact that they live in a bubble and work in an echo chamber.

Unfortunately, this article does not explain Mr. Tribe's legal reasoning. I, a non-lawyer, imagine it has something to do with executive edict rewarding certain businesses while punishing others in the name of "the common good."

With regard to the anthropogenic climateering craze itself: I doubt Mr. Tribe rejects its premises. If I'm wrong, then more power to him. Freeman Dyson deserves such distinguished company.
LW (Mountain View, CA)
The article links to his brief. Search for the sentence

"Mr. Tribe argues in a brief for the case that in requiring states to cut carbon emissions"

and click on the link within. It goes to a fairly short PDF.
An (nnnh)
When Mr. Tribe and his like start experiencing climate change directly they still won't work on fixing it but will instead blame others for not taking actions in enough time. Remember the individuals and corporations who lobby against regulations now. We need to keep a list.
Impressed (Missouri)
Yes, the key word there being "when," since there is no evidence of man made global warming to offer, yet. Like evolution, it's only a theory.
Justice Holmes (Charleston)
Deny much?
Castanea Sativa (USA)
When Mr. Tribe... start experiencing climate change directly...?
He could not care less he will be dead and his heirs will have the means to afford the very best in air conditioning.
Robert (Palo Alto, CA)
I am utterly disgusted with Tribe. He's either a sell-out or, at best, is sacrificing essential environmental outcomes on the altar of dubious precedure/rule. Congratuations, Tribe. Way to sell your personal services for big bucks to the malefactor industry and help keep coal plants belching greenhouse gases and hurting people's health.
Tullymd (Bloomington, Vt)
The constitution is not a suicide pact.
Alan (Los Angeles)
Yeah -- we all know you're supposed to ignore the Constitution if it gets in the way of what liberals want.
New Yorker1 (New York)
So air pollution greenhouse gas emission limits for energy production are unconstitutional if they result in the use of cleaner energy sources like renewables or natural gas to meet these limits?. Is this a trick question? Therefore should all regulation be thrown out if it results in switching to more benign actions to achieve compliance?
Jim (Medford Lakes NJ)
Dear Professor Tribe,
Welcome to the ranks of Ralph Nader. For personal gain you take steps that undermine the good of the country and, quite literally, the entire world. And to write Op Ed pieces that attest tomthenvirtue of coal? And we are supposed to believe you are doing this on principle?
AJB (Maryland)
Tribe is doing this to position himself to be confirmed by a Republican Senate if he is ever nominated to the Supreme Court. It's not particularly admirable.
GMooG (LA)
Ahh, no. In a thousand years, Tribe would never be confirmed by a Republican senate, and he knows it. He's doing it for the money.
whatever (nh)
I am sorry, but did I miss an argument -- even teeny weeny one -- somewhere in the article? What exactly is the basis for Professor Tribe's claim that the EPA's moves are unconstitutional?
Anonymous (Los Angeles)
The basis for Professor Tribe's claim that the EPA's moves are unconstitutional can be found in the most recent electronic statement of his bank account.
LW (Mountain View, CA)
It links to his brief.
GBC (Canada)
For that you will have to go to the Wall Street Journal. If you do, you will find that it is a sincere and persuasive argument, and that the character assassination directed at Professor Tribe in the article and in the comments is unjustified and shameful.
js (Vermont)
The most aggravating thing here is the nice cozy bunch of Ivy Leaguers at the helm of our future, and of course our past. They helped steer us where we are, don't ever forget that. Maybe they can all chat about their old days at the college. I doubt they have much to say about their collective guilt and collusion even across party lines in putting America where it is today.
Kildare (El Cerrito, CA)
That guilt and collusion being most glaringly manifest at the Federal Reserve.
Iced Teaparty (NY)
Tribe's discussions of John Roberts nomination to the Court should have alerted everyone to serious failings in Laurence Tribe's judgment. After Roberts voted for the constitutionality of Obamacare, Tribe said that he had significantly repaired the damage caused by Citizens' United and Bush v. Gore. Tell me, how does allowing a government health plan make up for allowing unlimited campaign contributions? And how does Obamacare make up for Bush v. Gore? The guy made one good decision and all the rest catastrophic, yet the one good decision makes up much for all the other bads? Makes no sense.
greg anton (sebastopol)
i've read a thousand articles on the subject…there's 98% agreement world wide…if we keep burning coal and other fossil fuels, we will run out of air and water…if don't keep burning coal, we will lose some jobs.
Ashland (Missouri)
John Roberts was not member of the Court for Bush v. Gore. And if the Constitution says Congress shall make no law respecting the freedom of speech, how is Citizens United wrongly decided? And do not argue money is not speech or that corporations are not people. Those principles were established long before Citizens United was decided. In fact, none of the parties argued that money is not speech or that corporations are not persons.
.N (NY)
Depends on the context in which Professor Tribe said that (he might have just been talking about in terms of the legacy of the Roberts court), but leave the lawyering to the lawyers. I'm a law student (actually at HLS now), and there could easily be a specific doctrinal basis that was "repaired" from one decision to the next, even if the cases seem otherwise unrelated...
Gerald (NH)
Thomas Jefferson could not have foreseen the most serious issues we face today, all global and pan-national in nature, but he did believe that the Constitution should be rewritten every 19 years. He did not want the dead to exercise undue influence over the living and the whatever new things had come along for them to face. With climate change and its all-too-obvious imperatives we now have a scenario like a debate about navigational history on the rear deck of the Titanic. Whatever future is around to consider the missteps we made in confronting our most urgent problem ever its inhabitants will not be applauding the role played by an ossified American Constitution.
leptoquark (Washington DC)
None of this matters one whit, other than the fact that valuable time is being squandered. Nature doesn't care about who wrote what brief, the so-called "burning the constitution", or what's the bedrock of the economy. The only thing that matters are our efforts to harness physics and chemistry to avoid chronic food and water shortages and the inevitable warfare which will follow.
Matt Kkkkk (San Diego)
So amusing to hear all these leftie heads exploding just because someone trusted to stick to "The Agenda" (a fellow traveler, if you will) maintains an ethical standard. LOL!
DRS (New York, NY)
It's truly disheartening that supposedly educated NYT readers cannot distinguish between Tribe's passion for the legal principles he is arguing for and a support for pollution and global warming. If a cliche would be easier to comprehend: The ends do not always justify the means.

Bravo Laurence.
mikenh (Nashua, N.H.)
This is one "educated" NYT reader who does not "comprehend" how someone who has argued cases on environment law in front of the Supreme Court is somehow caught "unaware" of what Mr. Obama has proposing about climate change legislation for nearly two years and now has decided to take a stance on this.

Unlike you, I think most "educated" NYT readers do see Mr. Tribe's in a proper light as a person whose real passion is to line his pockets with lots of cash, no matter what harm comes from that.
Carl H (Rochester)
Presumably Tribe is being paid handsomely by Peabody; I'm not convinced "passion for legal principles" is really his main motivation for what he is doing...
baldwin (Canada)
I suppose you mean "support for [measures to reduce] pollution and [respond] to global warming". If he does care then why not just pass on this gig? Let someone else ensure legal representation for this delay tactic by the dying coal burners. Yes, the Tobacco comparison is apt.
Steve (just left of center)
Anyone who fights administrative overreach on the basis of the Constitution deserves our admiration and support. Go, Laurence!
Patrick (Long Island NY)
Although deeply moved by Obama's initial Ted Kennedy inspired candidacy for President, over the years I recognized how Obama exhibited the belief in Government power over the people, and I learned to deeply regret those at Harvard who taught him Constitutional law. Now, with this writing, I learn that it is Mr. Tribe who taught him, and I find ironic that he who taught the man to flaunt the limits of power now seeks to fight him, perhaps out of conscience for what he created. Only Mr. Tribe can answer that question.

Then again, to be typically cynical in matters such as these; I understand the Harvard endowment is very heavily invested in fossil fuels and I think this paper should correlate those publicly known investments with Professor Tribes actions. Does Harvard stand to lose big? Could this also explain Tribe's relationship with Peabody coal?
John Smith (NY)
Just like human caused global warming ....ethics among lawyers is also a myth. Lawyers are in business, Harvard is in business, politics is a business .... who is so naive as to think truth or justice will come from these places?
Curiouser (NJ)
Selling out one's soul has apparently become more profitable than ever. When our planet's atmosphere collapses, his money won't protect him. So where will he or his family hide? Moonshot? Cave preppers?
Blue State (here)
He'll be dead, his one son will make art out of armageddon, and he has no grandkids, so 'what, me, worry?'
Doug (Michigan)
Very sad. Professor Tribe is telling the world that justice is no longer his business, but twisting the law is. He is clearly a skilled technician and with this case announces his new career as a hitman. Wonder what his next target is going to be?
Scot Stirling (Scottsdale)
Seriously, who cares that Professor Tribe has taken Peabody's money? His constitutional arguments are no better or worse because of his client, and if the EPA's position can't stand up against a little paid advocacy, it ought to be revisited, anyway. We make too much of these personalities, as if they actually mattered. Tribe is a great appellate advocate, but most cases are won or lost on the merits. I think Tribe is on the wrong side of the law, and it's a shame the article doesn't say anything about the legal issues in dispute.
KR (Adr)
Difficult to say that most SCOTUS cases are won or lost on the merits, unfortunately, when so many seem to come down to 5/4 decisions.
Socrates (Verona, N.J.)
Lawrence Tribe might as well be representing the rights of tobacco companies to sell cigarettes to children,

Coal plants are the nation’s top source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the primary cause of global warming. In 2011, utility coal plants in the US emitted a total of 1.7 billion tons of CO2.

Burning coal is a leading cause of smog, acid rain, and toxic air pollution.

Coal plants are the USA's leading source of sulfur dioxide (SO2)pollution by contributing to the formation of small acidic particulates that can penetrate into human lungs and be absorbed by the bloodstream.

SO2 also causes acid rain, which damages crops, forests, and soils, and acidifies lakes and streams. A typical uncontrolled coal plant emits 14,100 tons of SO2 per year. A typical coal plant with emissions controls, including flue gas desulfurization (smokestack scrubbers), emits 7,000 tons of SO2 per year.

Coal causes nitrogen oxide pollution that causes ground level ozone, or smog, which can burn lung tissue, exacerbate asthma, and make people more susceptible to chronic respiratory diseases.

Coal plants are responsible for more than half of the U.S. human-caused emissions of mercury, a toxic heavy metal that causes brain damage and heart problems.

Just 1/70th of a teaspoon of mercury deposited on a 25-acre lake can make the fish unsafe to eat. A typical uncontrolled coal plants emits approximately 170 pounds of mercury each year.

Only money could cause a man to defend coal.
Coal plants in the US are highly regulated (controlled, in your terms), so including stats for "typical" uncontrolled plants is quite misleading.
lou andrews (portland oregon)
Too bad these ant-vaxxers don't scream and shout about all of that mercury coal plants spew out every day, thousands of times more in a single day their children inhale than any one vaccine, if there are any left that contain mercury. Misguide priorities.. perhaps they all own shares of these coal company stocks.
Alan (Los Angeles)
Yeah, because a liberal can't understand the principle that even if a policy seems really great, it still could be unconstitutional or illegal. The federal government can't do anything it wants just because you think it's a good idea.
mikenh (Nashua, N.H.)
Laurence Tribe, liberal?

And you wonder why we should have a healthy distrust from any person that comes out of Ivy League hothouses?

Because, whether it be our muddled and out-of-touch president, a reactionary, hothead U.S. Senator from Texas or a sell-out "liberal" law professor from Harvard Law School, you would be foolish to place trust in elitist higher education institutions where the thinking among students and faculty seems to treat ethics is an academic abstraction along with a healthy disdain for the 99 percent who live in this country.

Remember that the next time you step into a voting booth when you think someone with an Ivy League degree has your interests in mind, because they clearly do not.
Joe (Los Angeles)
Sounds like Mr. Tribe is globally warming up to a sooty but substantial stack of cash. I didn't think he'd have the constitution to sell out like this, so to speak. Maybe he was slighted by the Obama Administration in some way?
Doug Eckhardt (Phoenix)
I find it telling the number of people arguing the destructiveness of coal--as if this has anything to do with whether the EPA regulation is constitutional.
sleepyhead (Detroit)
Because the EPA regulations are an attempt to diminish the damage coal is doing to the environment. This is not a intellectual exercise in the constitution, it's an attempt to save our lives.
Dr E (san francisco)
Doug, assuming that you are correct, and science and human health play absolutely no role in the EPAs job or on this case in specific, then how do you defend the fact that Tribe, who admittedly has no expertise on environmental law, would even be qualified to render an opinion? To say nothing of the fact that he appears to be paid handsomely for his "opinion", by a corporation that stands to gain immensely from the outcome, a fact that should raise big red flags, if not disqualify him from having an objective opinion worthy of consideration
GMooG (LA)
Actually, yes, this is an intellectual exercise in the Constitution. Ends do not justify means.
Vox (<br/>)
Yet another sell-out to a bad corporate master?

Depressing how money has bought and paid for so many...
Deborah (NY)
This is an example of men with extraordinarily large egos arguing that, of course, they are right, and meanwhile the house burns down. Science, and nature are not waiting for the old men in robes and Armani suits to decide who's the smartest guy in the room. If this case is an example of how we will come together to solve our massive global warming problem, then we are doomed.
Impedimentus (Nuuk)
Exactly. Tribe cares no one whit for the good of the human race or the planet. He is a disgrace, a sellout. Tribe has no shame.
Richard (Wynnewood PA)
Well, even those charged with the death of children ingesting King Coal's emissions, are entitled to legal counsel. If Professor Tribe were to disclose his legal fees, perhaps his arguments would be entitled to the weight to which they are entitled -- which is a whole lot less.
Anonymous (Los Angeles)
Is this man not able to tell right from wrong?
mikenh (Nashua, N.H.)
Right from wrong....

Sadly, for far too many people in elite educational institutions like Harvard these concepts are merely an academic abstractions.
msf (NYC)
No, he is a lawyer and argues wrong as right.
Harvard's generous pay does not seem to be enough.
Me (Here)
Surely you jest. He's a lawyer.
huth (Geneva/Harvard)
The earth's atmosphere cannot give a fig for what Tribe thinks. The climate will do what it does, and couldn't care less, except for a tad more hot air. Sorry, Laurence.
CK (Rye)
You simply add to the hot air. Without people of integrity like Tribe we'd be in a lot more trouble than you'll ever see from climate change.
tory472 (Maine)
In our justice system even a major polluter like Peabody Energy is entitled to its day in court and to the best representation it can afford. However, if Peabody had spent as much money cleaning up its act and finding new profit centers as it has on lobbyists and lawyers, their bottom line and our planet's atmosphere would be much better off.
Just what would "cleaning up its act" be? Peabody sells the coal, utilities burn the coal. And, admittedly to comply with Clean Air Act mandates, utilities are spending lots of money to address SO2, NO and mercury. Just one major utility is spending $6 Billion to upgrade its emissions control equipment, which will result in decreased emissions of sulfur dioxide by 93 percent, nitrogen oxides by 85 percent and mercury by 75 percent from 1990 levels.
lemonchiffon (America)
Thank you, tory492...I was thinking the same thing!
Joseph Huben (Upstate NY)
Indeed, the harm to miners is not discussed. How convenient for Tribe's defenders here that they can stick to Ivory tower nonsense.
Andrew (Chicago)
Throughout the article Prof. Tribe is quoted as claiming he acts on principle, what he thinks is right, rather than cynical calculations of pragmatic expediency.

However, when addressing whether or not federal law should be honored by the states, Prof. Tribe casually dismisses the notion of an obligation to obey federal law: rather, Prof. Tribe "disagreed with Mr. McConnell’s advice to states to ignore the rules, since states could face steep fines for failure to comply with the rules while they are still in place."

“I’m worried about being used to encourage the states to take risks that may be unwise,” Professor Tribe said.

If Prof. Tribe, a Harvard Law professor, only encourages industry to comply with laws "because of the risk of fines" what does that say about his sense of principle? Sure, he may be alluding to the cost-benefit analysis that drives corporations in their more cynical mode (break the law except where penalties outweigh gains), but the language here clearly approves this calculation (violate when violating pays). And since Prof. Tribe says he is in ethical agreement with the coal company in question, he is presumably speaking for his own ethical values endorsing such a cost-benefit approach to violating the law. Pretty disgusting. A Harvard law prof publicly advocating flouting the law when it can be gotten away with, when benefits outweigh penalties. I have never felt less regret at having a less illustrious career.
John Q Dallas (Dallas, TX, USA)
Prof. Tribe recognizes that the Supreme Court at times decides to skirt the plain language of the Constitution and legislate from the bench. As such, his recommendation to tread lightly on civil disobedience is not a reflection of compromising principles. It is merely recognizing that sometime majority of SCOTUS judges compromises theirs. Physicist Howard Hayden has published more truth about sound energy policy than the EPA and Energy Department combined.
Tom (Florida)
It's telling that the top comment on this article is so ignorant of Federalism, State Sovereignty, and the Constitution. Does not bode well.
Mario Goveia (Perrysburg, Ohio)
These regulations have nothing to do with "pollution" - they are about reducing emissions of CO2 in the mistaken belief that CO2 causes global warming.

Since the beginning of the industrial age, the clear plant food, CO2, has increased from 0.028% of the earth's atmosphere to 0.040% today - an increase of 43% in these minuscule percentages that some claim can "trap" heat, which is laughable on its face.

During the same period the average global temperature has increased a WHOPPING 0.4 to 0.8 degrees Celsius - hardly something to sweat about.

The reason for the range is that the average global temperature is a statistical absurdity - as ESTIMATE that pretends to calculate one global temperature for the whole world for a whole year. Like any statistical estimate it has a margin of error and a range of probabilities.

As we saw recently, NASA issued a press release that 2014 was "the warmest year on record". Well,it turned out on closer scrutiny that their estimate only had a probability of only which they were forced to admit in a second press release.

This is the kind of ideological that the EPA is using to terrorize the economy
SB (San Francisco)
At this point in history, there is no legitimate case to be made for coal as an energy source. None whatever.

When the time comes to tally the results of his life's work, I hope that posterity will discount this indiscretion. Lord knows what he plans to do with the money involved, he doesn't have long to spend it.
Honolulu (honolulu)
Many men live to the age of 85-90; Prof. Tribe is 73.
HJBoitel (New York)
Lawrence Tribe has never been very good at the real-world application of Constitutional principles. He dropped the ball in Bush v Gore and his newly-found stance on regulations relating to climate change is more a reflection of a paid combatant than of a constitutional scholar.

He is simply doing what most lawyers justifiably do -- he is making money with his law degree, by pleading the case for one side, without any obligation of being objective. I hope he gets trounced.
John Mead (Pennsylvania)
Lawyers aren't supposed to be objective. They're supposed to argue the case for the client that has hired them. The prosecution argues for its client, and the defense argues for its client. An objective jury/judge then makes a decision based on those arguments. 'Twas ever thus.
HJBoitel (New York)
Of course that is true, and my note suggest no different. However, unlike most lawyers, tribe tends to enter the stage ex machina, and should be assessed according to the legal deity status that he seeks to cultivate.
CathyZ (Durham CT)
To ensure diversity,the next Supreme Court justice can not come from Harvard or Yale.
andyreid1 (Portland, OR)
To ensure diversity the next Supreme Court justice shouldn't be a lawyer either. That is the way it was long ago.
Castanea Sativa (USA)
How about Pepperdine University then?
mikenh (Nashua, N.H.)
CathyZ, we should not stop at Harvard and Yale.

Look at the damage wrought from those who have graduated from Ivy League schools...

Need one example?

Ted Cruz, Princeton Alum and Harvard Law School graduate.
EaglesPDX (Portland)
How sad that Tribe ends his career as hired hand for coal companies that want to kill the ecosystem and have killed miners with their disregard for human life at every level.
A. Pritchard (Seattle)
Seeing this story juxtaposed with a story predicting Canada to lose 70% of it's glaciers by the year 2100 was particularly depressing. If someone like Tribe can seemingly be bought - his protestations about Obama "burning the Constitution" are straight off of a Tea Party rally poster - then all is pretty much lost. We'll just keep arguing and fighting until the last shovel full of coal is scraped out of the earth.
andyreid1 (Portland, OR)
Are you saying Obama is burning the Constitution with coal? No the Koch Brothers and the other billionaire Oligarchs are burning the Constitution with their money thanks to Citizens United.
tom (bpston)
Actually, we will probably all be dead from a combination of pollution and climate change before we manage to extract all the coal.
Howie Lisnoff (Massachusetts)
Takes a really distorted outlook to argue for the demise of human civilization for a buck!
Darius Picard (Earth)
Takes a really distorted outlook to argue for the demise of human civilization when there is no evidence of such.
paula (<br/>)
Wonderful. Perhaps Mr. Tribe would then like to pick up another client and favorite friend of Mitch McConnell's -- the Tobacco Industry. No doubt the government has thrown over the Constitution in its effort to protect Americans from the hazards of smoking.
kagni (Illinois)
i don't think so.
If Prof.Tribe wanted money, there have been many opportunities.
operadog (fb)
Here's a unique idea: Follow the money. Carl, Portland
Rick Cowan (Putney, VT)
What a sad way for Professor Tribe to end his career--as a corporate shilll for one of the country's largest polluters.
Upstate New York (NY)
Polluters that do not care one iota for their workers, their health or the environment. The same goes for Prof. Tribe. All he seems to care about is money as is Peabody Energy. Shame on on them!
OldCalvin (Kansas City)
Money talks, and given enough of it from Peabody, Mr Tribe is more than happy to speak their language.
orbit7er (new jersey)
Laurance Tribe has always been overrated as some kind of liberal champion. Now he reveals his true neoliberal pro-Corporatist colors
lou andrews (portland oregon)
Those old-time gangsters had a saying, "Everybody has a price". I wonder what Tribe's price is, I certainly couldn't afford it. Only the oil and coal companies could.
Elephant lover (New Mexico)
It is truly incomprehensible to learn that Laurence Tribe has defected to Peabody Coal. It doesn't sound like him at all. I will defer judgment until I hear his arguments against the EPA. I cannot imagine how one could justify giving in to the coal industry. But I will wait to see. Stil I find myself wondering if Mr. Tribe has had a stroke or had some desperate need for money. Hard to believe. I will postpone judgment.
Alan (Los Angeles)
Maybe you need to work on your imagination. It's actually possible for a policy you think to be good to nonetheless be unconstitutional.
e holder (ny)
Please don't question his treasured beliefs.....
Cowboy (Wichita)
The article would make more sense if it actually cited a few of Prof Tribe's legal constitutional arguments against the EPA's regulation that would cut carbon dioxide emissions from coal-powered plants.
Steve (USA)
Agreed, but you can find his views in his testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce that is linked from the article:
marcellis22 (YumaAZ)
The industries reply to the EPA is that "it costs too much" to meet the Clean Air Standards... Not much of a constitutional issue there...
BlueWaterSong (California)
Yes, this is classic Coral D. reporting - "He said ... and then they said ..., but someone else said ..."
See also