Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Procedure and environmental history

A little while back Liz Fisher gave an interesting paper at a conference at TAU Law on how courts in New South Wales have approached judicial review of environmental impact assessments. My colleague Issi Rosen-Zvi, commenting on the paper, related Fisher's discussing of Australian courts' manipulation of the law/fact distinction to a centuries-long phenomenon of courts arrogating power to themselves (and taking it away from juries and administrative agencies) by casting questions as ones of law rather than of fact.

Rosen-Zvi's comment is a reminder that current debates over procedural issues such as standing, scientific evidence, class action lawsuits, and the like not only hold great importance for today's environmental law, but have a long history behind them, a history tied up in politics and power struggles over (among other things) which institutions, social classes, professional groups, etc. get to make decisions of environmental import.

William Hogarth, The Bench (1758)

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