William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review


Canaan Suitt


This Note argues that a reliance on textualist arguments to win environmental victories from conservative judges in the new judicial landscape involves a simplistic view of judicial decision-making, according to which a method of constitutional or statutory interpretation is dispositive of a given ruling. Methods of interpretation interact with other factors, including judges’ ideological and institutional commitments, in determining cases. Textualism is a method of constitutional interpretation favored by conservative judges, but it is also part of a broader suite of conservative commitments and attitudes that complicate the role of textualism and may counteract textualism’s perceived benefit for environmental causes. The upshot is that a strong focus on textualism as a way to cope in the new judicial landscape may do more harm than good for the goal of environmental advocacy.

This abstract has been taken from the author's introduction.