Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Opinion in Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw Environmental Services

(2000)

The case of Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw Environmental Services addressed the rights of citizens to bring suit against environmental agencies that violated environmental protection laws. North Carolina residents living near the North Tyger River sued under the Clean Water Act, charging that Laidlaw, the owners of a water-treatment plant in the area, had dumped wastewater into the river in excess of their permit limits for toxic pollutants. In her opinion for the majority, Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the citizens had standing to sue an industrial polluter; their standing was based on the fact that the residents alleged that they would have used the river for recreational purposes but that they could not because of the pollution.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg with President Bill Clinton (National Archives)

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