A California Court Decision—Bees Are Fish—Shines New Light On The Biodiversity Crisis

(Originally published by The American Bar Association on October 28, 2022) 

Matthew J. Sanders

In September, the California Supreme Court left in place a lower-court decision holding that bees are fish—at least for the purpose of protecting them under California’s endangered species law. Public-interest environmental lawyers, including the clinical students I teach at Stanford Law School, are accustomed to working in the shadows behind the clients and causes we serve. But this case, on which many of my students tirelessly worked, has stolen the spotlight. Celebrated in the environmental community, criticized by industry, dissected by legal scholars, and alternately lauded and ridiculed in social media posts, the decision that bumble bees and other terrestrial invertebrates may be listed as “threatened” or “endangered” under the California Endangered Species Act seems like a sea change in environmental law.

(Continue reading the opinion essay on ABA’s page here.)