Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation : Vol. 25, No. 2, p. 249-302 : How Judicial Hostility Toward Environmental Claims and Intimidation Tactics by Lawyers Have Formed the Perfect Storm Against Environmental Clinics: What’s the Big Deal About Students and Chickens Anyway?
Babcock, Hope M.
What is it about law students working for credits and grades that powerful interests find so threatening that they spend their resources on eliminating clinics instead of confronting them in court? Is the attack on clinics part of a broader attack on public access to the courts for righting environmental wrongs? Do these attacks reflect something about the nature of the attacker and her victim? This Article seeks to answer those questions, and concludes that clinics, like environmental organizations, function in an environment that is exceptionally hostile to the types of clients they represent and the cases they bring. This means that the claims environmental clinics file, like those filed by the national groups, will be met with a barrage of opposing filings based on a number of jurisdictional and other challenges enabled by the U.S. Supreme Court’s anti-public interest jurisprudence. Unlike the well-funded, publicly visible, and widely supported national organizations, environmental clinics are more vulnerable to less conspicuous attacks brought directly by the economic interests they challenge and their political supporters. Perhaps clinics unwittingly invite these attacks that in turn weaken their ability to function in this already hostile environment. The combination of the two can create a perfect storm for environmental clinics.