Patterico's Pontifications


Supreme Court Balancing

Filed under: Court Decisions — DRJ @ 12:41 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, an appeal from federal district court and Ninth Circuit rulings that enjoined the Navy’s use of sonar in submarine-hunting training exercises because sonar might interfere with marine mammals’ ability to navigate and communicate. The district court order created a 12-nautical-mile no-sonar zone along the southern California coast and ordered the Navy to shut off all sonar use within 2,200 yards of a marine mammal.

Thus, the issue before the Supreme Court is how to balance the national security and environmental concerns related to the Navy’s use of sonar. On one side, the Bush Administration contends sonar training is “vitally important for sailors who may be deployed around the world in search of enemy submarines” and is crucial to national security. The Administration claims there is scant evidence that sonar harms whales and dolphins.

On the other side, the Natural Resources Defense Council says sonar’s piercing sound is “comparable to the noise of a jet engine magnified 2,000 times” and claims that beaked whales are especially susceptible to damage that “can cause them to strand themselves onshore.”

The linked AP article quotes Justice Stephen Breyer’s response to balancing these interests [emphasis supplied]:

You are asking us who know nothing about whales and less about the military to start reading all these documents to try to figure out who’s right in the case where the other side says the other side is totally unreasonable.”

Quote of the Day, folks.


17 Responses to “Supreme Court Balancing”

  1. “Hi, we don’t intend to follow the legal argument, we intend to figure out who’s in the right, then agree with them.”


    Al (b624ac)

  2. “The Administration claims there is scant evidence that sonar harms whales and dolphins.”

    And I suppose wingers think the court is supposed to take the Bush administrations word as the truth.

    I think the judges are in a tough spot.

    You’ve got a known liar versus environmentalist fringers.

    jharp (2282bb)

  3. Surely they can find some guidance in the rulings of the 3rd District in Sierra Leone, or the 5th District in Finland.

    JD (f7900a)

  4. Well, at least he fully admitted his level of expertise in military matters.
    Perhaps now he might even tell us what his judicial expertise level is
    (though many of us have a pretty strong idea about what that may be)?

    Another Drew (930ac9)

  5. Or, don’t forget J.Kennedy’s favorite jurisdiction, the Circuit Court in Davos!

    Another Drew (930ac9)

  6. It’s also funny that Breyer thinks it’s asking a lot for them to read “all these documents” and decide the case. I thought that’s what Supreme Court Justices do.

    DRJ (c953ab)

  7. Man, I’d love to see Scalia’s response to this.

    Chris (6733a5)

  8. Souter’s retirement to his cabin in NH is looooonnnnggggg overdue.

    Another Drew (930ac9)

  9. Comment by Another Drew — 10/9/2008 @ 1:55 pm

    Sorry, confused Souter with Breyer (who is just as brain-dead).

    Another Drew (930ac9)

  10. It’s an eerie parallel to the choice voters have before them this election season, no?

    Phil (3b1633)

  11. No, Breyer is exactly right. Congress has the Article I power to raise and support armies and to provide a Navy, and the President is their Commander-in-Chief under Article II. The courts have nothing to say about it. This case should have been dismissed as a non-justiciable question. I will bet that it’s 9-0 on the side of the Navy.

    Good Lord! Maybe we should stop military operations in Afghanistan because the Hellfire missiles from our Predator drones are killing the rare and nearly extinct Bacterium Kabuliasis.

    nk (f2ee58)

  12. Comment by nk — 10/9/2008 @ 2:23 pm

    Please, don’t give the NRDC any ideas.

    Another Drew (930ac9)

  13. They know nothing about organic chemistry either but they ruled CO2 to be a pollutant.

    mrkwong (a0f32a)

  14. #’s 10-12

    Precious. Thank you.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  15. You’re Welcome, Doc!

    Another Drew (930ac9)

  16. Because the military is governed by Art I and II, all the more reason for the Court to weigh in.

    Dreanaught (8c43be)

  17. Because the military is governed by Art I and II, all the more reason for the Court to weigh in.

    Excuse Me?

    Another Drew (e6d3fc)

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