In American Electric Power v. Connecticut the Supreme Court confronted climate change litigation for the second time. Whereas Massachusetts v. EPA was a closely divided court decision with dramatic and far-reaching legal and policy implications, AEP was a narrow, unanimous opinion that hewed closely to well-settled precedent. In AEP the Court side-stepped difficult jurisdictional questions and rejected an ambitious effort to turn the federal common law of nuisance into a judicially administered environmental regulatory regime. While not erecting any new barriers to future climate suits, the Court’s opinion raised cautions about trying to make climate change policy through the judiciary. That climate change is a serious concern does not mean it is a matter for the courts.


American Electric Power v. Connecticut, Massachusetts v. EPA, Georgia v. Tennessee Copper Company, Public Nuisance, Interstate Pollution, Global Warming, Climate Change, Climate Litigation, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Clean Air Act, Environmental Protection Agency

Publication Date


Document Type


Place of Original Publication

Cato Supreme Court Review

Publication Information

The Supreme Court Disposes of a Nuisance Suite


2010-2011 Cato Supreme Court Review 295 (2011)


COinS Jonathan H. Adler Faculty Bio