The Supreme Court’s order in the Asian carp case this morning says it all: “The motion of Michigan to reopen [Wisconsin v. Illinois] and for a supplemental decree is denied. The alternative motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied.” This effectively ends any hope for Michigan and the other Great Lakes states to get the Asian carp case before the Supreme Court.
The Supreme’s Court denial is disappointing but not surprising, given the Obama administration’s opposition to having the case heard. While other legal options (such as a case in state court or a lower federal court) are still open, it is doubtful that any new legal case would be resolved in time to prevent the Asian carp from spreading into the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Environmental Law Center is investigating other legal strategies, but at this point the pressure should be on federal agencies and Congress to take effective action immediately.
And make no mistake, this is now President Obama’s problem. The Obama administration jumped into the case on behalf of Illinois to oppose the motion of Michigan and other Great Lakes states to reopen the case. The Obama administration’s Solicitor General (potential Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan) told the Supreme Court not to take the case, claiming that the federal agencies led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were already taking action and had the situation under control. The administration wanted the Court to stay out of the issue and let the bureaucratic process run its course. Well, President Obama got his wish, but now he must deliver a solution. Politically, it may have been easier to simply let the Supreme Court and a special master handle this. Instead, this issue will define the Obama administration’s Great Lakes record, for better or worse. Let’s hope it’s for the better.
Update: See coverage by Tina Lam of the Detroit Free Press and John Flesher of the Associated Press (both quoting GLELC Executive Director Nick Schroeck for legal insights), and detailed coverage by Dan Egan of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.