Jedediah Purdy, law professor and author of a chapter in Law for the New Economy: Sustainable, Just, and Democratic, (Melissa K. Scanlan ed., May 2017), reacted to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement in his recent opinion in the New York Times. Focusing on the Supreme Court’s union-crippling decision in Janus v. AFSCME, Purdy details the Roberts Court’s role in the ongoing “dismantling of the legal legacy of the New Deal and the creation of law for a new Gilded Age.” Along with Janus, the Court’s recent decisions upholding Trump’s travel ban and Texas’ racially gerrymandered voting districts are the latest “unhappy reminders that for much of American history, the Supreme Court has been a deeply conservative institution, preserving racial hierarchy and the prerogatives of employers.” Since the 1970s, the Court has refused to address economic inequality while bolstering the outsized power of capital. With an ascendant conservative majority on the Court, Purdy argues, American democracy’s ability to confront the inequality and insecurity powering this New Gilded Age is increasingly thrown into question.
Trump’s highly anticipated Supreme Court pick, conservative Judge Neil Gorsuch, recently assumed his position in the nation’s highest court. What does this imply for environmental law going forward? New Economy Law Center Fellow Pat Parenteau provides some insight into this question in the following opinion piece for Grist.
Patrick Parenteau. “Gorsuch likely to be skeptical of environmental rules, but that could bite Trump, too,” Grist, February 3, 2017, http://grist.org/politics/gorsuch-likely-to-be-skeptical-of-environmental-rules-but-that-could-bite-trump-too/
Climate science and policy is under attack from the new Trump administration, but this assault faces a legal roadblock in the form of a group of young plaintiffs asserting their right to a livable climate. The landmark case Juliana v. U.S. survived a motion to dismiss and is now proceeding to what observers expect to be “the trial of the century” this summer of fall. In the following piece featured in the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law Top Ten Watch List 2017, Professor and New Economy Law Center co-founder Melissa Scanlan examines the legal questions in this case, including constitutional and public trust claims.
Can the current profit-driven, exclusive and gentrified housing market give way to a limited equity, inclusive and affordable model of homeownership? New Economy Law Center Fellow, Janelle Orsi (Director of Sustainable Economies Law Center), explores this question in the following blog post that encourages us to consider “a different model of property ownership” in alignment with new economy objectives.
“Chase it down and read it!” is what New Economy Law Center Fellow, David Bollier, advises in regards to a recently published (Sept. 2015) new economy book by British design expert John Thackara. From establishment of a “food commons” to bioregionalist redesign of urban landscapes, Thackara’s How to Thrive in the Next Economy illustrates emerging examples of what life in a more socially responsible, environmentally sustainable economic system might look like. See below to read Bollier’s full review.
David Bollier, “John Thackara’s Intimate Tour of the Emerging New Economy,” October 5, 2016, http://bollier.org/blog/john-thackara%E2%80%99s-intimate-tour-emerging-new-economy
The movement to create an “economy for the common good” has officially reached the United States. Austrian author and alternative economic advocate, Christian Felber, who started the movement five years ago, recently completed a U.S. tour to introduce the concept and initiate partnerships. The New Economy Law Center at Vermont Law School hosted him on September 20, 2016. During his time here, he met with community leaders from the Building a Local Economy (BALE) center and he presented an evening talk on campus. Click the link below to read the full report of his U.S. tour.
Paul Raskin of the Great Transition Initiative explores several scenarios regarding the future of human civilization in a new book titled “Journey to Earthland: The Great Transition to Planetary Civilization.” In doing so, he offers hope for a global transformation of our destructive system, driven by a global citizens movement. According to NELC Fellow and co-founder Gus Speth, building this powerful, bottom-up movement “should move rapidly to the top of our collective priority list.” Speth praises Raskin’s latest work, calling it “a stirring guide to a world that works.” To read Speth’s reflective piece in its entirety, see below.
Gus Speth, “Reflection on ‘Journey to Earthland,’” Great Transition Initiative (October 2016) http://www.greattransition.org/publication/jte-reflections-speth
South Royalton’s local economy center, BALE (Building a Local Economy), is hosting several events as part of a yearlong series focusing on the new economy, localization and wellbeing –“Localize the Economy: Build Resilient Communities”. Tuesday, September 27 Gwendolyn Hallsmith speaks about transforming the money economy to fund infrastructure needed to address climate change. The series continues Thursday, October 6 with a screening of the film “The Economics of Happiness” followed by a discussion with filmmaker Steven Gorelick. Then on Tuesday, October 11 author George Lakey will talk about “Viking Economics,” discussing lessons learned from the economic model used in Scandinavian countries. All events start at 7:15pm at the BALE center, 35 S. Windsor Street, South Royalton, VT 05068.
Gwendolyn Hallsmith of Vermonters for a New Economy, takes up the challenge recently offered by Bill McKibben about the unimaginably huge scale of the effort needed to stall climate change. Hallsmith’s talk, “Coining Infrastructure” looks to a transformative view of the money economy (used before and essential now).
Meet filmmaker Steven Gorelick and watch his film, “The Economics of Happiness” as BALE partners with the international group, Local Futures. Join the dialogue following the film. See the trailer HERE.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016: George Lakey
George Lakey, author of Viking Economics, is active in the Earth Quaker Action Team. Turning economics “talk” into engaging, understandable dialogue is his skill. Here he speaks about research into the political struggles and victories of the Scandinavian people; how they now enjoy more equitable, entrepreneurial, and successful economies. Dialogue follows on how we might move toward a system based on abundance instead of scarcity.
A global movement is coalescing advancing systemic change in the law through enacting nature’s rights provisions as well as through legal activism promoting international recognition of ecocide as a fifth crime against peace. Femke Wijdekop discusses the latter development in a new piece for the Great Transition Initiative. In the following commentary, Earth Law Center Executive Director and NELC Senior Fellow Linda Sheehan responds to this piece reflecting on the role of legal activism and strategies for pushing ecocentric systemic reform forward.
Linda Sheehan, “Commentary on ‘Against Ecocide: Legal Protection for Earth,” Great Transition Initiative (August 2016), http://www.greattransition.org/commentary/linda-sheehan-against-ecocide-femke-wijdekop
Vermont Public Radio recently featured the VLS Energy Clinic’s White River Community Solar project that we have been developing with our community partners Building a Local Economy (BALE) and Putting Down Roots Farm. Putting Down Roots Farm is a local CSA business that has agreed to host the 150 kW community solar array which will be directly owned by the local participants and developed by our local solar partner Catamount Solar. This story features a discussion of the challenges facing community solar, including the challenge of utility net metering caps and the competition for interconnection capacity with projects that are neither locally owned or solar for the local community. Our Energy Clinic continues to work to advance true community solar and we welcome collaboration with new partners in this effort. We can be contacted at energy email@example.com