Asian Carp Take Over U of C and SCOTUS

By JoshMogerman in News on Apr 24, 2010 7:00PM

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University of Chicago Earth Week Poster image by Tom Tian. Courtesy of U of C Office of Sustainability.
First they came for our River. Now they’re coming for our Lakes!

So say the University of Chicago’s brilliant Earth Week posters poking fun at the Asian carp hysteria that has gripped the entire Great Lakes region for months. The mock 1950’s horror movie posters, reminiscent of the classic Creature from the Black Lagoon, are meant to engage students on water pollution (living on not) issues at a very interesting point in the carp controversy. Yesterday, as U of C students gathered on the Quad for Earth Fest, the U.S. Supreme Court gathered to discuss whether they would take action on the growing inter-state squabble over the invasive fish.

SCOTUS Justices meet behind closed doors in conference on Fridays to discuss perspective cases. Twice they have met to talk about the case Michigan has pressed against the State of Illinois, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. And twice they have passed on taking immediate actions requested by the Wolverine State. But some legal experts watching closely expect a different outcome this time. NRDC attorney Thom Cmar blogged that the Justices might change their tune as they discuss the broader case:

It was not surprising to us that the Supreme Court did not grant Michigan’s request for emergency action - that’s just not what the Justices typically do (Bush v. Gore being one notable exception that proves the rule). But this time, when the Justices consider Michigan’s case, they’ll be looking at the broader merits of Michigan’s suit, which seeks a permanent solution to prevent Asian carp from getting into Lake Michigan and endangering the economy and ecology of the entire Great Lakes region. It’s notable that each and every Great Lakes state other than Illinois, as well as the Canadian Province of Ontario, have all filed papers with the Supreme Court urging the Court to hear Michigan’s case. This is a powerful showing of unity across the Great Lakes region that the invasive species problem raises critical issues that should be decided by the highest court in the land.

News of the Courts’ decision could come as soon as Monday, if they once again choose not to take the case. However if SCOTUS decides to hear arguments in the case in the coming year or to name a special master to investigate the issues on their behalf, it might take longer for details to emerge.

In the meantime, we can all bask in the mock hysteria perfectly captured by U of C’s Tom Tian on behalf of the University’s Sustainability office for posters and T-shirts (that are, sadly, not available to the public). Despite the menacing pitchfork wielding carp in his design, Tian notes “No red-blooded man should be terrified of Asian carp, or fish of any variety, for that matter.” Sure, we probably shouldn’t fear them, but we certainly can’t look away. As a former Managing Editor of The Chicago Maroon, he has to know that one of Chicago’s biggest news stories could get even bigger next week.