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An American (State) in Paris: The Constitutionality of U.S. States’ Commitments to the Paris Agreement

November 2018

Citation: 48 ELR 10977

Issue: 11

Author: Kristin McCarthy

In June 2017, President Donald Trump confirmed that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Almost immediately, individual states began to pledge their commitments to the Paris Agreement despite the lack of federal support. This combination of federal withdrawal and state involvement triggers a series of questions surrounding the constitutionality of individual state action in the Paris Agreement. Some scholars have noted that states' involvement with the Paris Agreement may be unconstitutional because it could violate some combination of the Supremacy Clause, the Treaty Clause, and the Compact Clause. This Comment takes a different view, outlining each of these three constitutional hurdles—the Supremacy Clause, the Treaty Clause, and the Compact Clause—and arguing that individual states’ involvement with the Paris Agreement is not violative of the U.S. Constitution.

Kristin McCarthy is a third-year law student at William & Mary Law School and a member of the William & Mary Law Review; upon graduation, she will work as an associate at the Los Angeles office of Greenberg Traurig, LLP.

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