Parsing Trump's latest climate tussle with California

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The battle between the Trump administration and California over climate policy further escalated on Wednesday.

Driving the news: The Justice Department, in a new lawsuit, alleges the state's emissions-trading system is an unconstitutional foray into the federal government's foreign affairs role thanks to the state's partnership with the Canadian province of Quebec.

  • Why it matters: Per Axios' Amy Harder, if the lawsuit succeeds, it could limit states’ abilities to collaborate with foreign countries on policies whose impacts don’t follow borders — like climate change.

One big question: Whether the move has any chance of success. Attorney David Bookbinder, a veteran of legal battles over global warming, called it "pure petty harassment" in an email exchange.

  • UCLA law professor Ann Carlson has a post on the school's LegalPlanet blog that argues DOJ's lawsuit is on shaky ground, and her colleague Cara Horowitz notes in a companion piece:
"[M]any good lawyers have been aware of these constitutional bounds from the get-go and have designed California’s program and its relationship with Quebec with these principles well in mind."

But, but, but: Jonathan Adler, a prominent conservative attorney with the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, said via Twitter that DOJ is presenting strong arguments.

  • "Whatever one thinks of DOJ's motivations in California lawsuits, concern for constitutionality of state-level climate agreements has been brewing for quite some time," he said.

The big picture: It's the latest move in the wider battle between the administration and California on climate and environmental policy. Other fronts include:

  • EPA has yanked California's Clean Air Act power to set carbon emissions limits for vehicles, a move already in litigation.
  • DOJ is also probing whether four automakers' voluntary agreement with California on emissions standards violates antitrust law.

Additional Stories

Trump prepares to announce Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court replacement

Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Photo: Matt Cashore/Notre Dame University via Reuters

President Trump is preparing to nominate federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, a favorite of both the social conservative base and Republican elected officials, to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Republican sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Barrett would push the already conservative court further and harder to the right, for decades to come, on the most important issues in American politics — from abortion to the limits of presidential power. If confirmed, she would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the high court.

Trump risk rises for companies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Donald Trump fancies himself a businessman — and has given himself a central role in determining the conduct and even the existence of major companies both domestic and foreign.

Why it matters: America has historically been a great place to operate a company under the rule of law, and not be beholden to political whim. Those days seem to be over — at least for companies in the communications industry.

China's split personality on climate

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new insta-analysis of China's vow to achieve "carbon neutrality" before 2060 helps to underscore why Tuesday's announcement sent shockwaves through the climate and energy world.

Why it matters: Per the Climate Action Tracker, a research group, following through would lower projected global warming 0.2 to 0.3°C. That's a lot!

California war over gas-free cars

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The fate of California's aggressive moves to wring carbon emissions out of transportation could depend heavily on the election and the shape of the Supreme Court.

Why it matters: California is the country's largest auto market and transportation is the country's largest source of CO2.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87, the Supreme Court announced Friday evening.

The big picture: Ginsburg had suffered from serious health issues over the past few years. As an attorney and then as a justice Ginsburg cemented a legacy as one of the foremost champions of women's rights, raising gender equality to a constitutional issue. Her death sets up a fight over filling a Supreme Court seat with less than 50 days until the election.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 32,994,213 — Total deaths: 996,682 — Total recoveries: 22,850,358Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 7,114,235 — Total deaths: 204,752 — Total recoveries: 2,766,280 — Total tests: 101,298,794Map.
  3. States: 3 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week — New York daily cases top 1,000 for first time since June.
  4. Health: The long-term pain of the mental health pandemicFewer than 10% of Americans have coronavirus antibodies.
  5. Business: Millions start new businesses in time of coronavirus.
  6. Education: Summer college enrollment offers a glimpse of COVID-19's effect.

Democrats demand Trump release his tax returns after NYT report

Compilation images of House Nancy Pelosi and President Trump. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Democrats called on President Trump to disclose his tax returns following a New York Times report alleging he paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 and nothing in 10 of the past 15 years.

Details: Trump said the report was "total fake news," that he's unable to release the returns as they're "under audit" by the IRS, "which does not treat me well." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement the report "provides further evidence of the clear need" for a House lawsuit to access the tax returns and "ensure the presidential audit program is functioning effectively, without improper influence."

Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale hospitalized

Brad Parscale, the former campaign manager for President Trump's re-election campaign, at Drake University in January in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Fort Lauderdale police arrived at former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale's home on Sunday after his wife called and said he was threatening to harm himself, Florida officials confirmed to Axios.

Details: Fort Lauderdale Police Sgt. DeAnna Greenlaw told Axios officers responded to a report of "an armed male attempting suicide" just before 4 p.m. local time.

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