Lottery will decide which court hears SEC climate slugfest

By Lesley Clark | 03/19/2024 06:25 AM EDT

Lawsuits over the agency’s new climate risk disclosure rule have been filed in at least a half-dozen federal appeals courts.

5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

The conservative-dominated 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is one of several venues in the running for handling a blockbuster legal battle over the SEC's new climate disclosure rule. Jonathan Bachman/AP

A lottery conducted by an obscure federal judicial panel will soon determine which of a half-dozen appellate courts will decide the fate of the Biden administration’s landmark rule requiring U.S. corporations to disclose their climate risk.

The intense interest in the first-of-its-kind Securities and Exchange Commission rule is reflected in the number of lawsuits filed by attorneys general in nearly every Republican-led state, along with fossil fuel companies and their allies. They argue that the Wall Street regulator does not have authority to issue an expansive rule that would require companies to divulge the vulnerabilities they face from rising global temperatures.

Two environmental groups have filed suit as well, arguing that the SEC should have required even more disclosures to protect investors.


The SEC challengers have chosen courts that mirror their ideological leanings. Environmental groups are seeking relief in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Red states and energy companies have filed the greatest concentration of their cases in the Louisiana-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has mostly conservative judges.