(Tom Toles)

“Conservative” Supreme Court justices like to pretend they are not about personal whims and preferences, but don’t count on that when you need it. Some of them would prefer to sit back and indulge their lazy, ignorant, anti-environmental hostilities that aren’t “conserving” of the most fundamental basics of human survival.

The Clean Air Act defines pollution as a substance emitted into the air that “may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” But for Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., this rather stark black-and-white definition is a definition he doesn’t like. And, so all of a sudden he feels free to begin spinning out all manner of fanciful statements and sophistries of any degree of implausibility that justify his uninformed whims.

For starters, he manages to overlook the entire — and I mean just about entire — body of scientific work on climate change when he chooses to scoot around the words “endanger public health or welfare.” Then he goes on with what apparently he considers compelling logic to say that carbon dioxide can’t be a pollutant because humans produce carbon dioxide naturally, and plants like it! By the same logic, it would not be pollution for people to pipe their toilets directly into lakes and rivers or neighbors’ gardens.

And now we all are supposed to relax and be confident that the next “conservative” high court appointee will also only be showing up to call balls and strikes. After all, it wouldn’t be fair to nominee Neil Gorsuch to expect him to tell us if he understands this portion of the Clean Air Act the same way Alito does, which also is likely to be shared by the president who nominated him.

Because, after all, to preserve the decorum and deference due to Supreme Court nominations, the stability of the climate of planet Earth is not too large a price to pay.