The court also considered an attempt by several states and private land trusts to fight climate change by filing public nuisance lawsuits against utilities. Justices were unanimous in dismissing the effort. Only the federal government, it seems, can regulate greenhouse gases. Not that it has been doing so: The EPA is set to issue its regulations of power plant emissions by next year. (A first phase of regulation began in January, after Congress failed to pass a climate change bill, but those regs apply only to new and modified plants. The states were suing over existing facilities.)
But commentators seem to agree that the Wal-Mart decision is something of a landmark, making it significantly harder for people to join together to form a class and file suit against a large corporation. In his majority opinion, Scalia credited Wal-Mart with having an official corporate policy against discrimination. "The women of Wal-Mart," said Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, "together with women everywhere, will now face a far steeper road to challenge and correct pay and other forms of discrimination in the workplace." Though Wal-Mart dodged what could have been billions of dollars in damages, it could still face further class action litigation from smaller, more specific groups of workers and former employees.
Another Greek Debt Crisis Wrinkle: Fitch Ratings potentially complicated the efforts of European finance ministers to rescue Greece by announcing that it would consider any voluntary rollover of Greece's sovereign debt to be a default. Such measures are being considered as part of a second bailout package for the beleaguered country. Fitch also joined competitor Moody's in warning that the United States risks a downgrade of its credit rating as the specter of default continues to haunt debt ceiling negotiations in Washington.