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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Defenders of Wildlife

Editorials and Opinion


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Republicans Should Resist Urge to Blockade Supreme Court  (Bloomberg News, 04/14/14)
Jonathan Bernstein: "It would be unprecedented for a Senate majority to decide not to fill a Supreme Court vacancy for a year or more. Yet it was more or less unprecedented for a Republican minority in the Senate to use the filibuster to blockade several judicial and executive branch positions, as occurred over the last few years.... With several Republican senators from marginal states up in 2016, it wouldn’t be surprising if they wanted to avoid overly partisan fights.... If it happened, Republicans would deserve criticism, just as they deserved criticism for attempting to blockade other positions with the filibuster."

Editorial: Urgent need to address climate change (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 04/14/14)
"Two new reports by a leading international panel should put the task of addressing climate change on the nation's priority list. President Barack Obama has made a start by investing in cleaner energies and seeking to reduce global warming emissions of greenhouse gases. But the United States will need to do more and do it quickly to reduce the natural and human impacts of climate change that pose global safety threats in the near future."

Editorial: Our view: Prudence on climate (Roanoke Times [VA], 04/14/14)
"While Virginians continue to fight nonsensical ideological battles over climate change, Norfolk has for decades been making an inch-by-inch retreat from the sea, and living with the threat of catastrophe. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration pegs the city as the nation's second most vulnerable area of its size to the rising ocean level....So it is well and good that Gov. Terry McAuliffe has reactivated the Virginia Commission on Climate Change"

Human-caused global warming can be checked if we act now: editorial (Cleveland Plain Dealer [OH] , 04/14/14)
"Ohio needs to keep investing in renewable energy technologies despite its coal and natural gas resources.... a renewed focus on national policies that encourage innovation and long-term planning for an alternative energy future is critical – for the United States and for the world."

Editorial OUR OPINION: Heed bird-advocacy groups on wind (Grand Forks Herald [ND], 04/13/14)
"Wind power’s percentage of America’s energy production is sure to increase. With that in mind, developers and regulators should follow the conservation groups’ guidelines, because minimizing wind turbines’ impact on birds is in the best interests of us all."

Editorial: Too many federal court vacancies in Texas (Eagle [Bryan-College Station, TX], 04/13/14)
"10 federal judgeships have been vacant for an average of almost two years. And that is unacceptable. Of course, Texas isn't alone. Currently, there are 85 district court vacancies around the country, with only 48 nominees to fill those positions, but Texas has by far the largest number of unfilled benches. The shortage of federal judges in Texas has created a backlog of more than 12,000 cases, both civil and criminal. That means that thousands and thousands of Texans are being denied their day in court.... Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are doing their best to delay confirmation of judicial appointments as long as possible, perhaps hoping for a Republican presidential victory in 2016. We can't wait that long. ... we have to fill those numerous judicial vacancies in Texas, and around the country."

Editorial: Climate change has arrived; OUR OPINION: Dire future if no action is taken (Miami Herald, 04/13/14)
"Advocates of curbing greenhouse emissions, still pretty much a tepid battle overall, have a new partner — those trying to adapt to warming’s impacts. ...We must act now, as individuals, as a state, as a nation of the world."

Senator Orrin Hatch Slams Democrats For Wanting To Do What Senator Orrin Hatch Did In 2003 (Think Progress, 04/12/14)
Ian Millhiser: "Rolling back the Senate’s so-called “blue slip process” would be “disastrous,” according to an op-ed written by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) on Friday. Which is somewhat of a surprising position for Hatch to take, since he largely abandoned this blue slip process in 2003."

Editorial: OUR VIEW | CLIMATE CHANGE: Options for climate change are on the table; now, U.S. must take lead (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [WI], 04/12/14)
"Climate change is already here; denying that is to deny reality..... coral reefs are already dying and fish and many other creatures are already migrating toward the poles or in some cases becoming extinct.... The economic threat posed by climate change far outweighs the economic discomfort of adjusting to meet it. And it poses a security threat to the United States."

Op-ed: Will sage grouse go the way of the lesser prairie-chicken (Salt Lake Tribune [UT] , 04/11/14)
Ed Arnett And Terry Riley: "As wildlife biologists, hunters, and conservationists, we watched closely as the fate of the lesser prairie-chicken unfolded on March 27 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to list the medium-sized game bird as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act.... the lesser prairie-chicken can be restored and eventually de-listed if responsible conservation practices are followed. We also can avert the need to list as threatened or endangered another once-abundant game bird, the greater sage grouse, if conservation practices are embraced."

Editorial: Road to disaster; New IPPC report underscores the consequences to humans’ willful ignorance (Chico News & Review [CA], 04/10/14)
"Drought, desertification, the death of coral reefs, declining fish populations, soil degradation and extreme weather are some of the immediate consequences of climate change.

So Many Vacancies, So Little Cooperation from GOP Senators (People For blog, 04/10/14)
"Of the 37 current vacancies without nominees, all but six are from states with at least Republican senator. And of those six, only one is more than a year old. Despite White House consultations with home state senators, vacancies are remaining open and without nominees for far too long - sometimes years - in states with Republican senators."

Editorial: Politicians and the lesser prairie chicken (Winfield Daily Courier [KS] , 04/10/14)
"The federal Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species. Robin Jennison of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks says this is premature. But anyone who has watched or hunted prairie chickens over the past 60 years knows their decline is not just a result of recent droughts — as Jennison claims.... Instead of spending a lot of taxpayers’ money to sue the federal government over this long-delayed designation, our elected leaders should get behind the plan and actually try to preserve the lesser prairie chicken."

What The Media Should Know About Those New Judicial Confirmation Numbers (Media Matters for America, 04/10/14)
Meagan Hatcher-Mays: "When the number of vacancies Obama has to deal with in comparison to Bush is added to an examination of their respective records, it is evident that the president still has a long road ahead to leave office with a rate similar to his predecessor, especially in the face of Republicans' unprecedented obstructionism. Even though the total number of Obama's confirmations has exceeded Bush's, Obama has more vacancies to fill and has to appoint more nominees than his predecessor. ... Obama still has 31 judicial nominees pending, many of whom would be confirmed to jurisdictions facing what's known as a "judicial emergency.""a

Obama's Had a Lot More Judicial Vacancies to Fill than Bush Did (People For blog, 04/10/14)
"Bush had 88% of his nominees confirmed at this point, while Obama only has only had 79%. One reason Obama has made so many more nominations is that there have been so many more vacancies to fill. While 270 judicial vacancies have opened up since January 2009, only 202 had opened up during the corresponding period during President Bush's time in office. So, for Obama: Lots more vacancies than Bush. Lots more nominations than Bush. Yet basically the same number of confirmations as Bush. That isn't parity."

EDITORIAL Our Views: Don’t limit court actions (Advocate [Baton Rouge, LA], 04/09/14)
"We’d prefer a political answer to the coastal catastrophe in which the many parties who compromised Louisiana’s wetlands over the years help pay the billions it will cost to repair them. But without the threat of court action, what’s the incentive for powerful corporate interests to come to the negotiating table? Decades of political expedience led to the environmental disaster of Louisiana’s vanishing coastline. These bills seem like more of the same, and that’s bad news for a state so vulnerable to continuing coastal decline."

Guest commentary: Why is lawsuit such a bad idea? (Advocate [Baton Rouge, LA], 04/09/14)
Prof. Oliver Houck: "Louisiana legislators, still searching for a reason to quash the New Orleans levee board’s you-broke-it-you-fix it lawsuit against major oil companies, have turned up instead a canard. ...I do not think we are ready to write off the 5 million acres of wetlands that used to buffer us from the Gulf of Mexico and have provided so much bounty.... Not much time, though, because of the beast whose name our legislators have trouble mentioning as well: sea level rise. Every time it is measured, the rates go up. ... Louisiana will require major funding to hold whatever line it can.... but one big player is missing: the one that created much of our predicament (most conservative estimates start at one-third of coastal loss), made large sums of money so doing and has so far avoided paying any part of the bill: The oil and gas industry. That is all the levee board suit is asking: not that this industry be heaped in blame, not that it pay for all harm, just that it pay its share."

Editorial: Climate change hits food prices (The Olympian [WA], 04/09/14)
"In its recent 32-volume report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that food prices could increase by as much as 84 percent over the next four decades, just due to climate change."

Legislature shouldn't weaken levee board reforms: Editorial (Advocate [Baton Rouge, LA], 04/09/14)
"Gov. Jindal's move to get more control over the authorities is not surprising, given how upset he was about the lawsuit the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East filed last year in hopes of forcing 97 oil and gas companies to pay for damage to the state's coastline."

Editorial: BLM plans better wild horse controls (Bend Bulletin [OR], 04/09/14)
"It has a long way to go to completion, but the proposed 2015 budget for the federal Bureau of Land Management contains good news for Central Oregon. The agency will increase spending on wild horse management, and it will continue its efforts to improve sage grouse habitat in an effort to forestall the bird’s listing under the Endangered Species Act."

Editorial: Ho-hum. Climate change is bad and getting worse (St. Louis Post-Dispatch [MO], 04/08/14)
"The geographic ranges of marine and land species have changed, along with migration patterns and the abundance of some species....Climate change, as the latest U.N. report emphasizes, is real and getting worse."

How to Secede From the Union, One Judicial Vacancy at a Time: By refusing to help fill the nation's empty trial benches, some senators are intentionally creating a vacuum of federal legal authority. (Atlantic, 04/08/14)
Andrew Cohen: "One federal-trial seat in Texas has been vacant for 1,951 days, to give just one example. The absence of these judges, in one district after another around the country, has created a continuing vacuum of federal authority that is a kind of secession, because federal law without judges to impose it in a timely way is no federal law at all.... Whereas judicial vacancies decreased both during the Clinton and George W. Bush Administrations—especially the latter—they have increased during the Obama Administration. The reason there are so many vacancies without nominees is that certain senators are making strategic choices not to recommend federal trial-court nominees to the White House."

Editorial: With heat comes hunger (Albany Times Union [NY], 04/08/14)
"The United Nations group says fish already are migrating due to the climate-induced changes in the oceans, and that North America can expect more drought, floods, coastal erosion and wildfires — all happenings that affect food production."

Editorial: Logic runs through it: An EPA rule will clarify its authority on water (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA] , 04/08/14)
"“All the rivers run into the sea,” notes Ecclesiastes, and they do this even if they are streams that do not flow all year. As long as water flows downhill, pollution in one place can be carried to another. So it makes sense that the Environmental Protection Agency has long sought to recognize this reality. But Supreme Court rulings in 2001 and 2006 have confused the understanding of which waterways can be subject to EPA rules. On March 25 it issued a proposal to clarify that intermittent streams near bigger ones will be covered."

Richard Burr blue slip watch Day 293: Is NC Senator really throwing in with the secessionists? (Progressive Pulse [NC], 04/08/14)
Rob Schofield: "As Andrew Cohen, contributing editor at The Atlantic explains in “How to secede from the union one judicial vacancy at a time,” it really boils down to a matter of extreme, cynical, hardball politics"

Editorial: Flowing under the radar (Anniston Star [AL] , 04/08/14)
"Were it not for environmental groups keeping watch on the Alabama Legislature, lawmakers in Montgomery might have slipped through yet another stealth bill.... The matter in question is stormwater runoff, which, of all the things that pollute streams, is one of the worst.... It’s clear that this is one more attempt to block Environmental Protection Agency rules and poke a finger in the federal eye, something Alabama legislators love to do. But in doing this, the state risks being hauled into court for violating the Federal Clean Water Act. If so, Alabama money again would be spent fighting a losing battle."

BuzzChatter Tuesday  (Kansas City Star, 04/08/14)
Steve Kraske: "Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft derailed White 15 years ago for being — in Ashcroft’s words — soft on crime. Many viewed that attack as unfair and a political ploy connected to Ashcroft’s intense re-election fight against Gov. Mel Carnahan in 2000. Now White is getting a rare second chance, although Jason Rosenbaum reports his prospects remain uncertain."

Editorial: Disaster response plans get a needed boost (Poughkeepsie Journal [NY] , 04/08/14)
"Climate change and other changing weather conditions are likely going to lead to more powerful storms throughout the Northeast, especially along the coast and even the Hudson River."

Editorial: Our View: Pay heed to report on climate change (Herald [Rock Hill, SC], 04/07/14)
"Report by U.N. climate panel states that the world already is experiencing some of the dire effects of climate change....In the U.S., with Congress unable to break the stalemate on legislation to reduce carbon emissions, President Barack Obama has been reduced to confronting climate change by way of executive orders....The nation needs a comprehensive battle plan, including a carbon tax to discourage use of fossil fuels; incentives to develop and use more clean energy sources such as solar and wind; and renewed emphasis on increasing energy efficiency at all levels. And, as the U.N. report makes clear, there’s no time to waste."

Inquirer Editorial: Cleaning up New Jersey's act (Philadelphia Inquirer [PA], 04/07/14)
"With a new United Nations report showing global warming is getting worse, the window to protect food supplies and endangered coastal communities is closing. But progress is being made. In New Jersey, an appellate court has ruled that Gov. Christie was wrong to pull out of a regional compact to reduce climate-changing pollution.... it's clear that New Jersey should return to the RGGI.... Christie should take a cue from the Environmental Protection Agency, which ... for a decade after a court order failed to clarify its authority under the Clean Water Act. The EPA recently issued a rule placing millions of acres of wetlands and miles of streams under its jurisdiction."