Press Release

Washington, D.C. — With the sharp rise in lawsuits over climate change in recent years, it is critical that America’s federal courts include judges with professional expertise gained while advancing policies to protect the climate.

A new column from the Center for American Progress finds that despite recent gains in professional diversity on the bench, not a single federal appeals court judge has experience working at a nonprofit specifically dedicated to environmental work.

Meanwhile, nearly 90 percent of current active appellate judges worked in the private sector at some point in their careers; and much of that experience was spent representing the interests of those within industries that significantly contribute to environmental harms and climate disinformation.

“The federal judiciary is dominated by judges hailing from industry and corporate settings,” said Maggie Jo Buchanan, director of Courts and Legal Policy at CAP. “We should be appointing more judges with experience seeking to protect natural resources and communities harmed by climate change.”

From 2017 to 2020, the number of climate change cases brought in the United States nearly doubled, from 654 cases to approximately 1,200 cases. Given the prominent role that federal courts play in efforts to combat climate change, the federal bench should include more judges with demonstrated experience working for environmental protection and climate justice.

Read the column: “The Climate Needs a Balanced Judiciary” by Maggie Jo Buchanan.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at [email protected].