We attempt to engage modern legal reasoning with Gandhi’s thought. We hope to speculate on what jurisprudence would look like if it were more mindful of the concepts central to Gandhi’s thought. By using Gandhi as an intellectual anchor, we hope to take a step toward creating a more “mindful jurisprudence” that implicitly incorporates into its reasoning the needs of environmental stewardship, disempowered populations, and the poverty-stricken. Because Gandhi’s thought has been discussed at length in environmental justice campaigns, we begin this effort by examining the relationship between environmental law and Gandhi’s thought. Given Gandhi’s commentaries on exploitative and oppressive social relationships, we focus on the intersections of law, environment, and economy.

We use the recent suit, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation v. Nestlé Waters North America, Inc. (MCWC), as a case study to which we apply themes from Gandhi’s thought.

Applying Gandhi’s thought to MCWC is useful for two reasons. First, MCWC contains several core legal doctrines that appear regularly in environmental cases (and in case law more broadly). As a result, our applications of Gandhi’s thought directly apply to other environmental cases. Second, the case involves a defendant-corporation’s encroachment onto a stream used by local plaintiff-civilians. Environmental justice campaigns often involve similar factual circumstances in which local people resist large outsider organizations. Therefore, using Gandhi’s thought, we examine the legal reasoning in MCWC to identify taken-for-granted assumptions about environment and society that favor outside parties over local residents.