Obama judge added to climate rule case

Obama judge added to climate rule case
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A judge appointed by President Obama has been added to the group that will decide the fate of his landmark climate change regulation.

The addition of Judge Nina Pillard tips the scales further toward Democratic appointees for the case, which comes before the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit next week.

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Six of the judges now hearing the oral arguments were appointed by Democrats and four by Republicans, although the party affiliations may not necessarily dictate how the judges rule. Arguments over the legality of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan will take place Tuesday.

Chief Judge Merrick Garland, another Obama appointee, is sitting out for the case. He recused himself from all cases earlier this year when Obama nominated him for the Supreme Court.

Pillard had recused herself previously from the case for a reason the court never explained. A Thursday notice from the court said all of its judges except Garland would participate in Tuesday’s hearing.

The case is unique because the court decided in May, without any litigants asking, that it would have all of the judges hear the case, something that hasn’t happened since 2000.

Cases at the D.C. Circuit are usually heard by a three-judge panel, and litigants can appeal to the entire court.

The Clean Power Plan, which Obama made final last year, requires power plants to cut carbon emissions 32 percent by 2030. Conservative states, energy companies and business groups say it violates the law.

The rule is currently on hold after an unprecedented Supreme Court order in February saying the EPA cannot enforce it while it is being litigated.