The Supreme Court has told the 9th Circuit Court to pack some sand regarding the injunction they’ve placed on the Navy regarding use of active sonar in SOCAL.
The Supreme Court is lifting restrictions on the Navy’s use of sonar in training exercises off the California coast, a defeat for environmental groups who say the sonar can harm whales.
The court, in its first decision of the term, voted 5-4 that the Navy needs to conduct realistic training exercises to respond to potential threats by enemy submarines.
Environmental groups persuaded lower federal courts in California to impose restrictions on sonar use in submarine-hunting exercises to protect whales and other marine mammals.
The Bush administration argued that there is little evidence of harm to marine life in more than 40 years of exercises off the California coast.
You can read the entire judgement here. Here are some of my favorite passages:
Military interests do not always trump other considerations, and the Court has not held that they do, but courts must give deference to the professional judgment of military authorities concerning the relative importance of a particular military interest.
So you’re saying that a Circuit Court Judge in California really shouldn’t be telling the Commander in Chief what’s best to train his guys to defend the nation? Say it isn’t so…..
The public interest in conducting training exercises with active sonar under realistic conditions plainly outweighs the interests advanced by the plaintiffs. Of course, military interests do not always trump other considerations,and we have not held that they do. In this case, however, the proper determination of where the public interest lies does not strike us as a close question.
National security … safety of whales and dolphins … Safety of the Nation … whales and dolphins.
It seems to me that, in weighing the balance of public interest, the lower court forgot to ask why the Navy does these exercises. It’s not for our own jollies, its to go do a job somewhere else. So when environmentalists say that its more important to save whales than it is for the Navy to get an exercise done, well … they could be right, as long as the exercise was for no reason. But it’s not. That’s not how we roll Cousteau.
Here’s my particular favorite quote from the original court opinion:
… and public interest outweighs the harm that Defendants would incur if prevented from using MFA sonar, absent the use of effective mitigation measures, during a subset of their regular activities in one part of one state for a limited period
I’m not a lawyer. I drive submarines for a living. But has this court not heard of precedence? Yes, assuming that we did exercises in tons of other places besides SOCAL, this injunction would only affect a small subset of exercises. But did the Judge honestly not think that a victory in one court wouldn’t spawn a series of lawsuits in other courts, resulting in a coast-wide shutdown of MFA use?
Unlike the Ninth Circuit, we do not think the Navy is required to wait until the injunction “actually result[s] in an inability to train . . . sufficient naval forces for the national defense” before seeking its dissolution. By then it may be too late.
Spoken, “You are retarded.” You know, per the I.C. Manual.
It just does my heart good for the Supreme Court to make this judgement. I’m not saying that whales, and dolphins, and other sweet we-can-talk-to-children-like-flipper animals aren’t important. But the safety of the nation that exists in such a manner to provide opportunity for these animals to be studied is more important than the study itself. After all, I’m pretty sure the Chinese are banging away at Flipper with mainframe as we speak. I’m sure THEY care what Greenpeace has to say.
In the mean-time, we see no basis for jeopardizing national security, as the present injunction does.