Ooh, it's fun to watch progressives eating their own!

The latest lefty snack: Laurence Tribe, the famously liberal professor of constitutional law at Harvard who's best known for representing former Vice President Al Gore in the Supreme Court case that, unfortunately for Tribe and his client, handed the 2000 presidential victory to George W. Bush.

Tribe also likes to brag that Harvard Law grad President Obama was one of his star students, "one of the most amazing research assistants I’ve ever had." Tribe served in the Justice Department during Obama's first term and has been a staunch defender of the constitutionality of the Obamacare laws.

But now, Tribe has been retained by Peabody Energy, the nation's largest coal producer, in an effort to block a recent regulation of the Obama-administration Environmental Protection Agency that requires states to cut carbon emissions in power plants within their borders. The regulation is aimed at squelching use of fossil fuels and pushing "renewable" solar and wind power–all in the name of combating "climate change."

Tribe's position is that in issuing the regulation, the EPA exceeded the power delegated to it by Congress in the 1970 Clean Air Act–an unconstitutional usurpation of Congress's legislative authority by the executive branch. As he put in more bluntly in a House hearing last month, the regulation amounts to "burning the Constitution."

Uh-oh, global cooling! From the New York Times:

Anger from within the Obama administration about Mr. Tribe’s actions is particularly fierce, although officials declined to comment on the record for fear of escalating the situation.

“Whether he intended it or not, Tribe has been weaponized by the Republican Party in an orchestrated takedown of the president’s climate plan,” said one former administration official.


“That a leading scholar of constitutional matters has identical views as officials of a coal company — that his constitutional views are the same as the views that best promote his client — there’s something odd there,” said Richard L. Revesz, director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law.

Tribe, however, insists that his views, expressed in a paper he filed with the EPA, are compelled by the Constitution's separation-of-powers doctrine. In a recent op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, he pointed out that he had taught the very first environmental-law class, at Harvard some 45 years ago and that he's also been a dedicated environmentalist. Nonetheless, he wrote:

The agency would effectively dictate the energy mix used in each state and leave the state with essentially no choice in implementing its plan. But Supreme Court precedent settled over two decades ago in New York v. United States (1992) and reaffirmed by a 7-2 vote as recently as 2012 in NFIB v. Sebelius, the ObamaCare decision, holds that such federal commandeering of state governments defeats political accountability and violates principles of federalism that are basic to our constitutional order.

Even more fundamentally, the EPA, like every administrative agency, is constitutionally forbidden to exercise powers Congress never delegated to it in the first place. The brute fact is that the Obama administration failed to get climate legislation through Congress. Yet the EPA is acting as though it has the legislative authority anyway to re-engineer the nation’s electric generating system and power grid. It does not.

 As one fossil-fuel lobbyist said to the New York Times about Tribe: “He’s about to be banned from a lot of cocktail parties.”