Editorials and Opinion
Judicial Confirmations (New York Times, 11/04/14)
Letter from Nan Aron, President, Alliance for Justice: "The last three presidents to serve two terms were confronted by a Senate controlled by the opposition party during their last two years in office. But in every case, of all the judges the three presidents saw confirmed, about 20 percent were confirmed during those two years. In other words, 20 percent of their total confirmations came during the last 25 percent of their time in office. Although it is safe to presume that confirmations would slow down in a Republican Senate, neither the White House nor Senate Democrats should yield to the narrative of an inevitable confirmation shutdown."
Editorial: Science has spoken about climate change (Anniston Star [AL] , 11/04/14)
"Yet, when it comes policies to address the science of climate change, too many lawmakers and their supporters have been duped by a campaign designed to mislead. Those under this spell have a difficult time coming to terms with the overwhelming consensus of scientists who study climate: The planet is warming. Humans play a significant role in this warming. And the consequences will cause massive disruptions."
Editorial: Mountaintop removal gets another strike against it (Independent [Ashland, KY], 10/23/14)
"Most of us know the massive damage mountaintop removal mining does to the environment by leveling hilltops to get to the coal and then leaving the site without trees and top soil. In addition, thousands of miles of waterways are buried under tons of rock, totally destroying them. That alone should be more than enough for federal and state regulatory agencies to greatly limit mountaintop mining ... Most of us know the massive damage mountaintop removal mining does to the environment by leveling hilltops to get to the coal and then leaving the site without trees and top soil. In addition, thousands of miles of waterways are buried under tons of rock, totally destroying them.
That alone should be more than enough for federal and state regulatory agencies to greatly limit mountaintop mining"
EDITORIAL: The dirty effects of mountaintop removal mining (Washington Post, 10/22/14)
"Burning coal has a host of drawbacks: It produces both planet-warming carbon dioxide and deadly conventional air pollutants. Removing layers of mountaintop in the extraction process aggravates the damage. The displaced earth must go somewhere, typically into adjoining valleys, affecting the streams that run through them. The dust that’s blown into the air on mountaintop removal sites, meanwhile, is suspected to be unhealthy for mine workers and nearby communities.... The Clean Water Act gives the government wide authority over industrial operations that change rivers and streams.... the Obama administration once again prevailed in court, beating back another industry challenge. ... The EPA is right to move more firmly to protect health and environment."
Editorial: The Pentagon’s practical approach to climate change (MetroWest Daily News [MA], 10/21/14)
"Conservative members of Congress may not be ready to acknowledge the reality of climate change, but the Pentagon sees it for what it is - a threat to national security.... Unlike ideology-driven politicians, the military must deal with reality as it finds it, regardless of how unpleasant it may be. Surveying the contemporary landscape, the Pentagon lists a Pandora's box of social and political ills resulting from conditions generated by climate change: terrorism, infectious diseases, poverty, conflicts caused by food and water shortages, and mass refugee migrations."
EDITORIAL: Redbelly's future (Hays Daily News [KS], 10/16/14)
"[T]he redbelly snake ... have been listed as threatened under the Kansas Threatened and Endangered Species Act for some time. And the task committee that reviews the state list every five years recently has recommended the redbelly remain "threatened."... Jennison should take a stand on principles. Jennison might find himself dismissed from the governor's cabinet, but the redbelly snake would have a chance of continuing to be protected. ... It appears likely the redbelly snake is going to be thrown under the bus -- or the earth-mover in this case. The primary person entrusted with its survival, Secretary Jennison, should not be the one issuing the death sentence."
Editorial: Snake politics; Political pressure, not science, may decide the fate of a threatened snake species in Kansas. (Lawrence Journal-World [KS], 10/16/14)
"In the 40 years since passage of the Kansas Threatened and Endangered Species Act, the wildlife commission has never overridden a recommendation from its task force that evaluates what species need protection....micromanagement by state legislators would be detrimental to the state, not to mention much of the wildlife that live here.
The future of the redbelly snake in Kansas is important but not as important as the precedent the wildlife commission would set by deciding this issue based not on science, but on the fear of political retribution by the Kansas Legislature."
EDITORIAL: Follow science, not politics (Wichita Eagle [KS] , 10/15/14)
"If the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission follows Secretary Robin Jennison’s recommendation and takes the redbelly snake off the state’s threatened list, it will be avoiding a political fight by discounting science. It also will set a bad precedent for the next time somebody wants to ignore the scientific experts for reasons of cost or convenience. And the next."
EDITORIAL: The Senate is unjustly delaying D.C. Superior Court nominations (Washington Post, 10/10/14)
"THERE IS no controversy over the nomination of William Nooter to be a judge on the D.C. Superior Court. His presentation before a Senate committee was so well-received that it took only 18 minutes for him to be unanimously approved. ... But almost a year after Mr. Nooter handily won committee approval, his nomination has yet to make it to the Senate floor."
EDITORIAL: Our View: Defend federal land ownership at Friday hearing (Idaho Mountain Express, 10/08/14)
"The state takeover is popular with state lawmakers and has persisted since the days of the Sagebrush Rebellion in the 1980s when Westerners with permits to operate on federal lands expressed displeasure ... largely that they couldn’t do as they pleased on land they did not own and that they should be afforded rights greater than those of the landlord—the American public that owns the land. Idaho counties piled on, blaming federal ownership instead of unwise state tax policies that refuse communities local control of taxation for the cost of services to visitors on public lands. They also perversely blamed laws like the Endangered Species Act, which tries to protect the nation’s vanishing wildlife, for damaging the economies of communities located near public lands."
EDITORIAL Endorsements: Three California Supreme Court justices deserve a thumbs up from voters (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 10/08/14)
"Also up for an initial retention vote is Justice Goodwin Liu, 43, who was appointed by Brown and confirmed in 2011. Liu, who is serving on the court, also comes out of academia, in this case U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall law school. Before Liu joined the court, voters might have known him as the liberal who was nominated to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by President Barack Obama and filibustered by Republicans in the U.S. Senate until he withdrew his name from consideration. Liu may be left-leaning on social issues, but calls them as he sees them. Most recently, he incurred liberal wrath with an opinion that blocked an advisory ballot measure aimed at the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling on campaign finance. He had no judicial experience before being appointed, but has shown himself to be more than able."
Radical judge kneecaps clean electricity under cover of boringness (Grist, 10/07/14)
David Roberts: D.C. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers "Brown is a far-right ideologue.... her ruling in the FERC case is just what you’d expect. She is implacably hostile to federal authority, eager to defend federalism and states’ rights, and has clumsily imposed that ideology on an ambiguous regulatory issue. It’s called “judicial activism” and it’s something conservatives claim to oppose, at least when liberal judges do it. Remarkably, none of the stories and blog posts I read about this case — not one — mentioned Brown’s record of reactionary radicalism. ... Meanwhile, it would be great if Obama, liberals, and everyone else concerned with the integrity of social democracy got a little more alarmed about the rightward trajectory of the U.S. judiciary. This is something the conservative movement has been focusing on for decades, and it’s paying grim dividends. Climate hawks should be alarmed too: “This month a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to hear a challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s new climate rules under the Clean Air Act.”
EDITORIAL: Revisiting The Passenger Pigeon (Hartford Courant [CT] , 10/07/14)
"The passenger pigeon was once the most plentiful bird in North America. Its enormous flocks darkened the sky. But it was hunted to extinction by people who thought the supply was endless. The death of Martha was an awakening, the first time many people realized that human activity could wipe out an entire species. There is a modern parallel. Last month the National Audubon Society released a report saying that nearly 30 species of birds risk extinction by 2080, and hundreds of other species are at risk of serious range contractions because of global warming. As we should have learned by now, the health of the bird population is a good indicator of the health of the overall environment."
EDITORIAL: Count the votes (Greensboro News & Record [NC], 10/07/14)
"North Carolina voters are apt to be confused by changes they’ll see at the polls starting later this month. But don’t blame U.S. Court of Appeals Judges James Wynn and Henry Floyd.
“Our decision today acts as a safety net for voters confused about the effect of House Bill 589 on their right to vote while litigation proceeds,” Wynn wrote in a footnote to his ruling last week that stopped two parts of the law. ... The court drew an obvious conclusion: “The election laws in North Carolina prior to House Bill 589’s enactment encouraged participation by qualified voters. But the challenged House Bill 589 provisions stripped them away.”
Letter: Blaming Reid for congressional inertia is absurd (Salt Lake Tribune [UT] , 10/07/14)
Ray Worthen: "President Obama’s nominees were filibustered a total of 82 times, just 4 less than the total number of times that procedure has ever been used against appointments. ...Orrin Hatch, for his part, later contributed to this climate himself, blocking 45 of President Clinton’s appointments to 42 empty federal judgeships. Then, in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal in 2002 , he shamelessly complained about a "vacancy crisis in the judiciary," a condition he himself created. Blaming Harry Reid for the state of Congress is absurd,"
Editorial Word to the wise (voter): Register by Friday (Asheville Citizen-Times [NC] , 10/07/14)
"The Fourth Circuit recognized, correctly, that the implications of some of the law’s provisions were so severe, especially for members of minority groups, that they could not allowed to remain in effect for the 2014 voting. “Once the election occurs, there can be no do-over and no redress,” wrote Judge James Wynn, a former North Carolina Supreme Court justice and an African-American. “The injury to these voters is real and completely irreparable if nothing is done to enjoin this law.”"
The animals are disappearing: Editorial (Star-Ledger Newark [NJ] , 10/06/14)
"According to an alarming study from the World Wildlife Fund and the London Zoological Society, the populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have fallen by 52 percent in the last 40 years.... Animal are disappearing because we not only kill them in unsustainable numbers, we also destroying their habitats. ... the brown bats are vanishing because of a fungus, which eliminates an invaluable mosquito-removal service. Environmental factors such as rising sea levels and vernal pools made less habitable by road salt are decimating reptile and amphibian populations.
The only good trend of late is President Obama’s decision to create the world’s largest marine preserve,...To stop there would be hubris redefined."
Living With Wolves (LIfe of the Law, 10/04/14)
Jason Albert: "The gray wolf only roams a fraction of its historic range. While it used to inhabit huge parts of the U.S., it’s now confined to just a few states. But last winter, the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed taking it off the endangered species list throughout the entire lower 48 states, because in that small area, wolves are thriving. It’s the first step in what could be a radical reinterpretation of the Endangered Species Act, with ramifications far beyond wolf country....focusing on species current, rather than historic, range, means we might be preserving an approximation of nature as it was. ... There are also practical reasons to preserve species in more than a small area."
Vacancies must be filled on Alabama's federal bench: guest opinion (AL.com [AL], 10/04/14)
Leslie M. Proll, director, DC office, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.: "Alabama Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby should use the Congressional recess before the November elections to help fill the vacancies on Alabama's federal bench.... Three vacancies currently exist -- one on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and two on Alabama's federal district courts. Each pending for more than a year ... Promoting racial diversity must be a top consideration in selecting the next nominee for the Eleventh Circuit. This Circuit has the highest percentage of African-American residents (25%) of any circuit in the country, yet only one of its twelve judges is African-American.... Since 1891, only white males have represented Alabama on its federal appellate court."
EDITORIAL: Road kill: Overconsumption threatens the world’s wildlife (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA] , 10/03/14)
"World leaders need to take seriously the WWF’s call for international talks on sustainable development goals and actions, including on climate change, that will reduce the depletion of resources and the harm to Earth’s wildlife."
Editorial: NC GOP leaders push law that suppresses voting (News & Observer [NC], 10/02/14)
"Appeals court Judges James Wynn and William Floyd said Schroeder’s ruling wrongly ignored the “basic truth that even one disenfranchised voter – let alone several thousand – is too many.”... The state’s petition may well succeed, not because of its legal merits, but because the high court is captive to partisan zeal, and nowhere is it more so than in cases involving elections."
Editorial, Our View: Little upheaval from voting ruling (Charlotte Observer [NC] , 10/02/14)
“[T]hose 1,850 affected Mecklenburg ballots far outnumber the cases of in-person voter fraud, which that same year amounted to zero and which were the supposed impetus for the legislation. Most important, as appeals court Judge Jim Wynn said in the majority opinion, is “the basic truth that even one disenfranchised voter – let alone several thousand – is too many.”
EDITORIAL: Mr. Obama’s Pacific Monument (New York Times, 10/02/14)
"President Obama last week, in addition to everything else on his plate, created the largest marine preserve in the world....at a time when the world’s oceans are threatened by rampant pollution, overfishing and climate change, the benefits of Mr. Obama’s decision will be profound,...out there beyond Honolulu, living in splendid isolation, are sharks, rays and jacks; coconut crabs; moosehorn, staghorn and brain corals; humpback and melon-headed whales; green and hawksbill turtles; bottlenose and spinner dolphins; and untold millions of boobies, curlews and plovers. All these, and countless other living things, will be better off."
EDITORIAL: CO2 figures provide more cause for concern (Virginian-Pilot, 10/02/14)
"[S]cientists agree that carbon dioxide levels haven't been this high in eons. ...All that is slowly combining to cause the planet to warm, altering ranges for animal and plant species, changing climate, raising sea levels and increasing the potential for more severe weather. More CO2 has also been absorbed into the world's oceans, where it is acidifying the water and wreaking havoc with plant and animal life....he arc of the change provides cause for alarm. Carbon dioxide concentrations are increasing more quickly now"
The totality of circumstances (Greensboro News & Record [NC], 10/01/14)
Off the Record blog by editorial writer Doug Clark: “U.S. Court of Appeals Judges James Wynn and Henry Floyd saw North Carolina's voter reform act for what it is: a mechanism to deny equal access to the polls."
Editorial: Defending a bad NC law exacts a high cost (News & Observer [NC], 10/01/14)
[Judge James Wynn opinion] "The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that parts of the law ending same-day registration and keeping people from casting provisional ballots out of their own precincts could not be instituted during the upcoming November election. … What a misadventure this has been, and an expensive one to boot. Voter ID was sold as a measure to prevent voter fraud. But voter fraud in North Carolina has been virtually nonexistent. Other changes were nothing more than an attempt to suppress Democratic votes.”
Editorial, 9/30: Seize the moment on climate change (Lincoln Journal Star [NE], 09/30/14)
"Let’s hope that policy-makers at the state and local level pay heed to the report produced by University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty in the School of Natural Resources and the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. There is no doubt that climate change is happening and will continue to occur. The only question is how successfully Nebraskans can adapt to the changes....Let’s hope that policy-makers at the state and local level pay heed to the report produced by University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty in the School of Natural Resources and the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. There is no doubt that climate change is happening and will continue to occur. The only question is how successfully Nebraskans can adapt to the changes."
EDITORIAL: Climate change is now (Miami Herald, 09/29/14)
"World leaders came together at the United Nations last week to plan for climate change around the globe. Now it’s South Florida’s turn to get ready."