What Antonin Scalia's death means for Obama's climate plans

By Brad Plumer, Vox Media, Inc.

The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will have countless political and policy ramifications. But here's a big one: President Obama's plan to tackle global warming faces considerably less legal peril than it did just three days ago.

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court surprised everyone by voting 5-4 to issue a stay and postpone implementation of Obama's Clean Power Plan — a major EPA rule to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from the electricity sector. The Court hasn't yet decided on the rule's legality, but the stay suggested that the five conservative justices — Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito, Kennedy — were inclined to strike it down. Analysts frettedthat doing so could, in turn, cause the international climate deal forged at Paris to unravel.

Now, everything has changed with Scalia's passing and the Supreme Court split 4-4 between conservatives and liberals. The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit may end up playing a much bigger role in deciding the regulation's legal fate. That's fairly good news for Obama — although his climate plans aren't safe just yet.