As you may know, during the Spanish-American War, the United States busted Spain’s ass, and took Guam for their troubles. In 1950, they gave Guam power to rule themselves, while still remaining a territory of the United States.
In 1940, the US needed a place to dump military waste, like old ammo and even some hazardous chemical warfare shit like DDT and Agent Orange, using that dump through both the Korean and Vietnam wars.
It wasn’t a great dump, though, and it leaked that shit into the Pacific Ocean, prompting the EPA to declare it a serious priority to address in 1983 after passing the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). CERCLA was designed to deal with hazardous wastes at dump sites.
Five years later, the government said the Navy was the major asshole causing all of this, but because Guam ruled itself, the EPA told Guam to come up with a solution.
But Guam was like, “You assholes admit the Navy caused this, and we don’t rule the fucking Navy, you do. So the Navy should figure this shit out and clean it up. Why the fuck would we be on the hook for this?”
in 2011 a district court appointed some fucktwit who closed Ordot, the dump in question, and estimated it’d be like $160M to clean that mess up.
At one point during questioning of Guam’s counsel Garre, Justice Sotomayor went into full disrespect mode, interrupting counsel before he could answer most of the questions posed to him, and even at the end when he was trying to answer, cutting him off with a rather terse “Counsel, please!” I believe she was out of time, but still, it was incredibly unbecoming.
However, she must’ve had a change of heart, because her along with the other eight justices sided with Guam. They can sue the federal government to clean that shit up. CERCLA clearly has language for liability, and the Navy is clearly liable. Enough said.
Hear oral arguments or read about the case here