10:35 PM

Defenders of Wildlife Opposes SCOTUS Nominee


Contact: Haley McKey, 202-772-0247, hmckey@defenders.org

WASHINGTON (February 1, 2017) – Last night, President Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee for a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, Judge Gorsuch's record on the environment and the authority of federal agencies is deeply troubling.  

Statement from Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark:

“Supreme Court Justices must uphold and enforce environmental statutes that protect our air, lands, water and wildlife. But Neil Gorsuch’s record suggests that he is hostile to long-standing Supreme Court precedent rejecting constitutional challenges to federal laws, including those that protect the environment and public health. His decisions reveal an alarming lack of respect for federal agencies that manage our natural heritage, and the conservation and environment advocates that watchdog our federal government.  

“We urge the Senate to reject Judge Gorsuch's nomination. The American public deserves a nominee who respects our federal government's crucial role in protecting our environment.”  


Background on Gorsuch’s environmental record:

  • Judge Gorsuch has repeatedly tried to revive the discredited non-delegation doctrine that would invalidate many key environmental and other laws. His lengthy solo dissent in United States v. Nichols, 784 F.3d 666, 671 (10th Cir. 2015), ignored every Supreme Court non-delegation decision since 1935, all of which rejected such claims. These rejections include Justice Scalia’s opinion unanimously reversing a ruling that had struck down a vital part of the Clean Air Act. Whitman v. American Trucking Ass’ns, 531 U.S. 457 (2001). 


  • Gorsuch is opposed to Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, a 1984 Supreme Court decision that prevents judges from substituting their own views for those of federal agency experts on how to enforce laws such as those that protect our air, lands, water and wildlife.  


  • Judge Gorsuch authored a dissent that argued there was no actual difference between the U.S. Forest Service and environmental groups that filed to intervene in a case brought by off-road driving interests. He displayed an alarming lack of understanding or respect for the different roles the federal government and agency watchdogs play, and the many reasons the majority cited why the Forest Service would not adequately represent the environmental groups. 



Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org  and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.