Washington (CNN) The Supreme Court on Tuesday dealt President Barack Obama a blow by moving to temporarily block his administration’s rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
Reacting to a lawsuit from 29 states, as well as the energy industry, justices blocked the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan from going forward while the rule is challenged in court.
The decision means that Obama now has two major legacy actions — immigration and climate change — stuck in the court system with the specter of a Republican taking over the White House in January.
Obama has pushed action on global warming as a key part of his legacy, an effort that reached its peak with the deal at the U.N.-led talks on climate change in Paris in December.
Proponents of the plan did not expect the high court to step in at this juncture, particularly since the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hold oral arguments in June and neither the industry nor the states would have had to come into compliance for at least two years. The fact that a divided Supreme Court stepped in at this juncture to block the program, after a lower court declined to do so, sends a signal that at least five justices are concerned with some aspect of the plan.
“This is an exceedingly uncommon situation for the court to step in, and it jeopardizes the plan all together from going into effect while President Obama remains in office,” said Bruce Huber, professor of law at Notre Dame Law school. “The Supreme Court’s order signals serious misgivings among some of the justices about the legality of the plan.”
The four liberal justices on the court — Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elana Kagan — dissented from the order.