Compare the opening paragraphs of Justice Stevens‘ “[are you friggin’ kidding me] majority” opinion, Chief Robertsdissent, and Justice Scalia‘s dissent. Which sounds like a legal opinion, and which sounds like an op-ed?


Justice Stevens:

A well-documented rise in global temperatures has coincided with a significant increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Respected scientists believe the two trends are related. For when carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, it acts like the ceiling of a greenhouse, trapping solar energy and retarding the escape of reflected heat. It is therefore a species—themost important species—of a “greenhouse gas.”

Calling global warming “the most pressing environ-mental challenge of our time,” a group of States, local governments, and private organizations alleged in petition for certiorari that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has abdicated its responsibility under the Clean Air Act to regulate the emissions of four greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide.

Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, 127 S. Ct. 1438, 1446 (2007).

Chief Roberts:

Global warming may be a “crisis,” even “the most pressing environmental problem of our time.” Pet. for Cert. 26, 22. Indeed, it may ultimately affect nearly everyone on the planet in some potentially adverse way, and it may be that governments have done too little to address it. It is not a problem, however, that has escaped the attention of policymakers in the Executive and Legislative Branches of our Government, who continue to consider regulatory, legislative, and treaty-based means of addressing globalclimate change.

Apparently dissatisfied with the pace of progress on this issue in the elected branches, petitioners have come to the courts claiming broad-ranging injury, and attempting to tie that injury to the Government’s alleged failure to comply with a rather narrow statutory provision. I would reject these challenges as nonjusticiable. Such a conclusion involves no judgment on whether global warming exists, what causes it, or the extent of the problem. Nor does it render petitioners without recourse. This Court’s standing jurisprudence simply recognizes that redress of grievances of the sort at issue here “is the function of Congress and the Chief Executive,” not the federal courts. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U. S. 555, 576 (1992).

Id. at 1464 (Roberts, C. J., dissenting, joined by Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, JJ.).

Justice Scalia:

The provision of law at the heart of this case … provides that the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) “shall by regulation prescribe . . . standards applicable to the emission of any air pollutant from any class or classes of new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines, which in his judgment cause, or contribute to, air pollution ….” As the Court recognizes, the statute “condition[s] the exercise of EPA’s authority on its formation of a ‘judgment.’” Ante, at 30. There is no dispute that the Administrator has made no such judgment in this case. See ante, at 32 ….

The question thus arises: Does anything require the Administrator to make a “judgment” whenever a petitionfor rulemaking is filed? Without citation of the statute or any other authority, the Court says yes. Why is that so?When Congress wishes to make private action force an agency’s hand, it knows how to do so …. Where does the CAA say that the EPA Administrator is required to come to adecision on this question whenever a rulemaking petitionis filed? The Court points to no such provision because none exists.

Id. at 1471-72 (SCALIA, J., dissenting, joined by Roberts, C. J., and Thomas and Alito, JJ.).

Thx to Chief Roberts and Justice Scalia