About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for The Rule of Five: Making Climate History at the Supreme Court

Greetings from the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to today’s virtual author lecture with Richard J. Lazarus, author of The Rule of Five.

Before we begin, though, I’d like to tell you about two upcoming programs you can view on our YouTube channel.

On Tuesday, April 27, at 1 p.m., Joshua D. Rothman will tell us about his new book, The Ledger and the Chain, a study of America’s internal slave trade and its role in the making of America.

And on Thursday, April 29, at noon, we’ll hear from Jon Grinspan, author of The Age of Acrimony, an examination of 19th-century America's unruly politics.

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Today, April 22, is Earth Day. Since the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, this special day has grown into a global event observed by a billion people in nearly 200 countries each year. The rising public concern about the environment led to the establishment of the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of laws to protect the environment.

The following decades saw litigation over the scope of those laws, and today’s featured book examines what the author calls “the most important environmental law case ever decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.” In an unexpected triumph for the plaintiffs, the Court agreed that the Clean Air Act required the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases.

Richard Lazarus brings us the story of the landmark decision Massachusetts v.  EPA and the people who guided the suit up to the highest court in the land.

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Richard J. Lazarus is the Howard and Katherine Aibel Professor of Law at Harvard University, where he teaches courses on environmental law and Supreme Court decision making. He has represented the government and environmental groups in 40 Supreme Court cases and has presented oral argument in 14. For 10 years he has been co-teaching with Chief Justice John Roberts a course on the history of the Supreme Court. Lazarus was the founding director of the Supreme Court Institute, which prepares attorneys for oral argument in over 90 percent of the cases brought before the Supreme Court.

Now let’s hear from Richard Lazarus. Thank you for joining us today.