CCL President Robert S. Peck told Court TV today that an upcoming Supreme Court case is about the right to appeal a decision sending a case back from federal to state court. In BP v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, the city sued oil and gas companies over their longstanding denial of the connection between fossil fuels and climate change, raising only state law issues and bringing the case in the Maryland courts. BP and its co-defendants removed the case to federal court, where they believed their federal defenses would receive a friendlier hearing. Among the rationales for removal were that they were operating at the direction of a federal officer. Of all the justifications, only federal-officer removal permits a right of appeal.

     The federal court, however, granted a motion to remand, finding no basis for federal jurisdiction. BP appealed to the Fourth Circuit, asserting that all eight grounds for federal removal were subject to appeal, not just the federal-officer issue. The Fourth Circuit rejected that argument. Next week, the Supreme Court hears the case to determine whether the statute that permits appeal of the federal-officer grounds also permits appeal of the other grounds as well.

    Peck filed an amicus brief on behalf of state and local government groups, arguing that the Fourth Circuit was correct and that the case should be returned to state court. In the Court TV interview, Peck explained the background of the law at issue and the arguments that each side would be making.