Harvard Lawyer Who Mentored Obama Now in Legal Fight to Prevent Him from ‘Burning the Constitution’


Renowned Harvard constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe is about to do battle with one of his prized former students: Barack Obama. Mr. Tribe will represent Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest coal company, in a lawsuit against Obama’s Clean Energy Act, which the famed lawyer believes is unconstitutional.

As reported by The New York Times, Tribe not only worked in the Justice Department during Obama’s first term, he argued in favor of ObamaCare and the President’s controversial executive order on de facto amnesty.

However, in the case of the administration’s attack on the coal industry, Mr. Tribe parts ways with Mr. Obama. At a House hearing in March, he likened Obama’s global warming policies to “burning the Constitution.”

In a precursor to his upcoming oral argument, Tribe wrote in a December op-ed in the Wall Street Journal:

As a law professor, I taught the nation’s first environmental law class 45 years ago. As a lawyer, I have supported countless environmental causes. And as a father and grandfather, I want to leave the Earth in better shape than when I arrived.

Nonetheless, I recently filed comments with the Environmental Protection Agency urging the agency to withdraw its Clean Power Plan, a regulatory proposal to reduce carbon emissions from the nation’s electric power plants.

In my view, coping with climate change is a vital end, but it does not justify using unconstitutional means.

Tribe went on to explain, in his legal opinion, the unconstitutionality of the Clean Power Plan:

The Clean Power Plan would set a carbon dioxide emission target for every state, and the EPA would command each state, within roughly a year, to come up with a package of laws to meet that target.

[F]undamentally, the EPA, like every administrative agency, is constitutionally forbidden to exercise powers Congress never delegated to it in the first place.

The brute fact is that the Obama administration failed to get climate legislation through Congress. Yet the EPA is acting as though it has the legislative authority anyway to re-engineer the nation’s electric generating system and power grid. It does not.

As to be expected, some of Tribe’s colleagues disagree. Jody Freeman, director of the environmental law program at Harvard Law School, and Richard Lazarus, an expert in environmental law who has argued over a dozen cases before the Supreme Court, called Mr. Tribe’s argument “ridiculous” in a rebuttal on school’s website.

“The administration’s climate rule is far from perfect, but sweeping assertions of unconstitutionality are baseless. Were Professor Tribe’s name not attached to them, no one would take them seriously.”

Needless to say, this case will be fascinating to watch. In one corner, we have a famed liberal constitutional scholar. In the other corner, we have one of his former students, whom the professor once described as “one of the most amazing research assistants I’ve ever had.” In the middle, we have the U.S Constitution.

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