A Barrett Court could carry on Trump’s deregulatory agenda long after he’s left the White House, experts say

Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court has brought the public’s attention to divisive social issues like abortion rights, but replacing the late Justice Ginsburg with a more conservative figure could have an equally important effect on business regulation and the U.S. economy.

a person wearing a suit and tie: Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court

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Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court

“Barrett is likely to be a pro business justice, to restrict the ability of government to adopt some economic regulations, and would likely vote to expand the constitutional rights of business,” said Adam Winkler, constitutional law professor at UCLA and author of the book “We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights.”


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That could be good news for stock-market investors, as analysts have long pointed to the Trump Administration’s efforts to roll back Obama-era regulations and slow the implementation of new rules as a major driver of recent stock-market gains. Since President Trump’s election in November of 2016, the S&P 500 index (SPX) has returned 60.4%, according to FactSet. But it is a potentially troubling proposition for workers-rights advocates and environmentalists who have increasingly relied on agency regulation to achieve their policy goals.

One contentious issue being litigated in federal courts is Environmental Protection Agency regulations that limit electric power plants’ ability to emit greenhouse gases. President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency argued that the 1972 Clean Air Act requires it to issue such regulations, resulting in the 2016 Clean Power Plan. The Trump Administration subsequently rolled back those regulations, instituting a more business friendly Affordable Clean Energy rule.

But some conservative lawmakers, legal thinkers and activists argue that the Supreme Court should go further and strike down the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases whatsoever. Jonathan Wood, attorney at the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation, told MarketWatch