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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Defenders of Wildlife

Editorials and Opinion


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EDITORIAL: Fighting Climate Change With Trade; Negotiations to End Tariffs on Environmental Goods (New York Times, 07/13/14)
"World leaders will have to use many tools to deal with climate change. Eliminating tariffs on environmental goods could help."

Editorial: Don't mess with Texas' big cranes; Leadership needed to spearhead protection of the state's environment and wildlife. (Houston Chronicle, 07/11/14)
"The extinction scenario for the most famous avian residents of the Texas coast is not farfetched. And anyone who has marveled at the majesty of the 5-foot-tall birds foraging for blue crabs in their wintering grounds at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge near Rockport has to be saddened by the June 30 ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel said that U.S. District Court Judge Janis Jack abused discretion in finding that 23 cranes had died because of a disruption to their habitat."

EDITORIAL: Only Senate can fix broken process of confirmations (Dubuque Telegraph Herald [IA], 07/09/14)
"It’s up to the Senate to reform the broken confirmation process. ...The gamesmanship to avoid appointing qualified nominees has real negative consequences for government agencies and by extension, the American people. The Senate should expedite decisions, especially on noncontroversial nominees, and keep the nominating process moving. President Obama reached too far in making appointments without Senate approval. But it’s the Senate that created the backlog in the first place."

EDITORIAL: The Environmental Protection Agency is swimming in murky water [Print: Clear rules for clean water; Some in Congress would rather undermine the EPA than update regulations] (Washington Post, 07/09/14)
"LAWMAKERS, MOSTLY but not only Republicans , are seeking to undermine the twin foundations of Environmental Protection Agency authority: the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act . In both cases, Congress should back off. The agency badly needs clearer rules on which bodies of water it has the power to regulate. This clarification has been needed since a pair of Supreme Court rulings last decade left murky the definition of “waters of the United States,” a core Clean Water Act term.... Then again, having an unconvincing case almost certainly won’t stop lawmakers from trying to end another EPA initiative — cutting greenhouse-gas emissions."

145 Nominees Still Can’t Do Their Jobs Because Republicans Won’t Do Theirs (Nation, 07/08/14)
George Zornick: "So why are these nominees waiting so long? Routine obstruction by Republican senators who are deliberately stretching out the confirmation process for virtually every nominee to come through the Senate. ... A report by Common Cause in May found nineteen examples of Republican senators chewing up cloture time on judicial nominees who were later confirmed unanimously by the Senate."

EDITORIAL: Clean air efforts score court win (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 07/08/14)
"In a recent ruling, by a 7-2 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court said the Environmental Protection Agency can regulate major sources of greenhouse gases if those sources are required to have permits for other conventional pollutants.... If anything, the court has offered another reminder that Congress must take action on greenhouse emissions in the face of climate change."

Editorial - Any change to monitoring requirement must protect shorebirds (Wilmington Star-News [NC] , 07/08/14)
"The federal and state agencies involved in those discussions must ensure that any changes allowed do not weaken protections for the birds and their nests....Among them are the American oystercatcher, the least tern, the black skimmer and the piping plover, which is considered a threatened species."

Editorial: A climate plan is a necessity (MetroWest Daily News [MA], 07/08/14)

Editorial: Don't weaken manatee protections (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 07/07/14)
"There is no justification for the federal government to downgrade the protected status of the Florida manatee. It might make it easier for irresponsible boaters and builders to abuse their privileges on the public waterways. But the move would be terrible for the species and send the wrong message about Florida's natural resources. If anything, the state and federal governments should do more to protect these habitats."

EDITORIAL: Two Approaches to Tidal Politics (New York Times, 07/07/14)
"Foolhardy denial about the severity of rising seas is underway in North Carolina, where the Republican Legislature, prodded by tourism-dependent coastal counties and alarmed homeowners, ordered a state commission of experts to soften its estimate that coastal waters could rise 39 inches by the end of the century. ... By contrast in Virginia, a bipartisan group of political leaders is forthrightly talking about the problem."

EDITORIAL: Our View: Loss of pest control is the real scary bat story; A mysterious fungus that is spreading through the region is good news only for mosquitoes. (Portland Press Herald [ME] , 07/07/14)
"The threat of extinction, to one or more bat species, is very real in North America, biologists say. One bat can consume thousands of insects in a night. Their loss could trigger an increase in not only mosquitoes and black flies, but other pests as well. That could, in turn, ease the transmission of insect-borne disease. The impact on agriculture could be great, as well, with some researchers putting the toll in the billions of dollars nationwide."

EDITORIAL: Congress’s head-in-the-sand approach to climate change (Washington Post, 07/07/14)
"If Congress were the board of a large company, ignoring such a serious risk would give shareholders ample reason to fire every head-in-the-sand director. Voters might want to contemplate the analogy this November."

EDITORIAL: Climate change getting action (Virginian-Pilot, 07/06/14)
"Observant folks in Hampton Roads can't help but notice the creeping waters. The eroding yards along our waterfront. The flooding streets every time it rains more than a little....Global warming is undoubtedly contributing to the problem, as it is in low-lying communities across the planet....It's a welcome sight that lawmakers are finally showing urgency."

EDITORIAL: Another win for EPA (Providence Journal [RI] , 07/05/14)
"A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month fortified the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases. ...The upshot, fortunately, is that the agency will be able to regulate those larger entities that produce 83 percent of greenhouse gases from stationary sources."

The risky business of not facing up to climate change: Editorial (Los Angeles Daily News [CA], 07/05/14)
"When the sea level is rising and the micro-climates in which crops are grown are heating up and the deserts are on the move, the Earth doesn’t care if you’re an American tea party adherent or a European socialist. It is what it is. If the climate changes then you’d better believe the business climate does as well. And if too much climate change is bad for business, isn’t it a lot better to try to do something about it than sticking your head in the sand on that beach where that ocean water is moving up to drown you?"

EDITORIAL: Some real movement on that judicial appointment (Daily News [Galveston County, TX], 07/05/14)
"Here’s some good news: Texas’ two U.S. senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, are moving quickly to fill judicial vacancies, including the one in Galveston....Cornyn and Cruz established a bipartisan panel to help identify the most qualified candidates. They’ve put the word out, encouraging qualified candidates to apply. The notable thing is the application deadline: Aug. 1. The senators are moving."

Editorial: No judge, no justice (Dallas Morning News, 07/04/14)
"In the current hyper-partisan gridlock of Washington, however, the nomination and confirmation process has virtually ground to a halt, leaving Texas with more unfilled seats on federal benches than any other state. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz need to pick up the pace in nominating applicants to fill these seats. ... In the current hyper-partisan gridlock of Washington, however, the nomination and confirmation process has virtually ground to a halt, leaving Texas with more unfilled seats on federal benches than any other state. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz need to pick up the pace in nominating applicants to fill these seats....Why aren’t the names of nominees to fill the other vacancies already on the president’s desk, especially since many of those seats came open more than two years ago?"

Mercury News editorial: Senate should kill plan to increase use of lead ammo (San Jose Mercury News [CA] , 07/04/14)
"The health risk to national treasures such as the bald eagle is too high for the NRA and like-minded factions to get their way. Congress should follow California's lead and allow the EPA to regulate lead ammunition as responsible scientific study dictates."

EDITORIAL: Warming Effects Put Landmarks In Peril (Hartford Courant [CT] , 07/03/14)
"But how many of these visitors will be aware that Faneuil Hall, Liberty Island, and more than two dozen other national landmarks are at risk because of climate change?...Action is needed now, both to better protect these sites and to combat the root cause of the problem: carbon emissions. The issue is not some far-off matter for future generations to worry about; it is here and now."

Editorial: If whooper deaths weren't foreseeable, they are now (Corpus Christi Caller-Times [TX] , 07/02/14)
"Goodness knows we hear plenty about states' rights. Now, for the sake of the endangered whooping crane, let's hear more about a state's responsibilities. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that Texas is NOT responsible for the deaths in 2009 of 23 whooping cranes. That's contrary to what Corpus Christi federal Judge Janis Graham Jack ruled last year. Jack's ruling recognized the state's role in the birds' deaths by allowing too much water capture upstream ... Jack's ruling was based on sound logic and science.... the whooping cranes' continued existence remains precarious.... We concede the appeals court's narrow point that the deaths of the "23" in 2009 weren't foreseeable. But what judge, meteorologist or water supply superintendent in his or her right mind doesn't foresee continued drought in Texas' future? ... he next step is for the state to accept its responsibility, develop a management plan in the birds' best interest and enforce it."

Texas’ judicial backlog is finally being addressed (Dallas Morning News, 07/02/14)
Ashley Croswell, Letter to the Editor: "It is exciting to see that the judicial vacancy crisis in Texas is beginning to be remedied. Those vacancies have created a 12,000-plus-case backlog, totaling 19 years’ worth of work not done in our federal courts. Our federal courts are often the principal protectors of our natural resources. Defenders of the environment turn to federal courts to hold accountable those that jeopardize our health and the health of our planet. Federal courts can be the last resort for environmental justice. That is why judges who enforce laws that protect the environment are indispensable."

Editorial: Climate costs (Ocala Star Banner [FL] , 07/01/14)
"If rising temperatures and sea levels aren't enough to show that action is needed now to address climate change, maybe dollar figures will do the trick. Between $15 billion and $23 billion of existing property in Florida will likely be under water by 2050 under current projections, according to the Risky Business report."

Remarks by the President at Pride Month Celebration (The White House, 06/30/14)
President Obama: "We also have three judges that I was proud to name to the federal bench: Todd Hughes, Judy Levy, and Nitza Quinones Alejandro. Give them a big round of applause. Before I took office, we had only one openly gay federal judge to be confirmed by the Senate. Now, along with Todd, Judy, and Nitza, that number is 11. So we’re making some progress."

Editorial: To get the climate change message across, talk about beer (St. Louis Post-Dispatch [MO], 06/30/14)
"For years, the overwhelming scientific consensus on global warming hasn’t been enough to convince some skeptics — mostly those making a living off of the fossil fuel industry — that the U.S. or anybody else should lift a finger to reduce carbon emissions. Then came the government reports, analyzing serious shifts in weather patterns, and predicting massive new costs to deal with rising oceans, unpredictable river levels, floods, fires and famine. ... But now there’s a magic buzzword that could help ...Warmer temperatures could negatively affect taste, and, ultimately, the price, of your favorite brew.... “Global warming: Take it seriously or your beer will suck.”"

Court rulings: It's GOP v. Democrats (CNN, 06/30/14)
Jeffrey Toobin: "Elections have consequences. That's the message of Monday's rulings from the Supreme Court -- and, indeed, all decisions by nine justices whose ideologies reflect, with considerable precision, the views of the presidents who appointed them.... When it comes to the most fundamental issues before the court, the most important factor is not the legal arguments but the identity of the judges -- and the presidents who appointed them."

World-Herald editorial: The right call by high court (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 06/27/14)
"Since 2012, Senate Democrats have ended the ability of Senate Republicans to filibuster nominations with fewer than 60 votes. But if Republicans take control of the Senate after this fall’s elections, the administration will likely face renewed GOP obstruction. The proper course for both sides is to move beyond Washington’s counterproductive gridlock and work toward agreement, however grumbling, on appointees and key policy choices."

Symposium: The Senate must act to end dysfunction (SCOTUSBlog, 06/27/14)
Alicia Bannon and David Earley: "The Senate already took an important step toward reform last fall by changing the filibuster procedure for most nominees to require only a majority vote for cloture. Yet further reforms are urgently required to ensure that executive and judicial nominees are considered in a timely fashion – including reducing opportunities to waste floor time and reforming the blue slip process, where home-state senators can keep judicial nominees from moving forward. Without such reform, yesterday’s decision has the potential to significantly hamstring the president’s power to execute our laws."

Did the Supreme Court Just Set Up a Constitutional Crisis? (Newsweek, 06/27/14)
Pema Levy: "Just when you thought Washington couldn’t become more dysfunctional, enter the Supreme Court....If Democrats lose control of the Senate after the November midterm elections, Republicans could now block every one of Barack Obama’s appointments, from Cabinet members to federal judges, in 2015 and 2016....Some of the first women, black and Jewish federal judges were recess appointments, which allowed presidents to sidestep prejudiced lawmakers."