Editorials and Opinion
The Parties Can and Should Come Together on Judicial Nominations (Huffington Post, 11/07/14)
Caroline Fredrickson, President, American Constitution Society for Law and Policy: "vacancies can and should be filled during the lame-duck session. ...Both Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who faced opposition Senates, saw the confirmation of twenty percent of their total judicial appointments during the last two years of their second terms. There's no reason this can't hold true for President Obama."
Republican Claims About Judicial Nominations Combine Gross Inaccuracies With Banal Observations (Huffington Post, 11/07/14)
Nan Aron, President, Alliance for Justice: "Hatch and Gray persist in their bizarre view that it was improper for President Obama to fill longstanding vacancies on the D.C. Circuit, and they complain that rules reform has led to "controversial judges." These claims ignore the fact that President George W. Bush filled exactly the same seats on the D.C. Circuit when they became vacant during his administration, and his appointees included controversial judges Janice Rogers Brown (confirmed by a vote of 56 to 43) and Brett Kavanaugh (confirmed by a 57 to 36 vote)....Of the 62 federal judges confirmed in 2014 so far, 45 -- or 73 percent -- were confirmed with 90 or more votes in favor; 56 nominees -- or 90 percent -- were confirmed with bipartisan support....Senate Republicans have relentlessly obstructed President Obama's judicial nominees"
Editorial: With campaigns done, now Obama and GOP must lead (Dallas Morning News, 11/05/14)
"Republicans, who will control all of Congress in January, must show they can do more than obstruct the president and his party....A good time to test-drive this is during the lame-duck session before the new Congress is seated in January.
One must-do is the matter of funding the federal government, as a stopgap measure expires Dec. 11 — precisely the kind of measure that has caused past D.C. governance to grind to a halt. Other issues are stalled Obama nominations. ...
This newspaper has been critical of congressional Republicans for their obstinacy — and will remain so if they continue on that path."
Coastal damages lawsuit goes on, as it should: Editorial (Times-Picayune [LA] , 11/05/14)
"Ironically, the Jindal administration is suing the Army Corps of Engineers for wetlands destroyed during the four decades the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet was in operation. The state wants $3 billion for restoring the marshes. So, it's OK to sue a federal agency for destroying wetlands but not oil and gas companies? Both arguably are responsible for damage. Why give one group a pass and go after the other?"
Lame Duck Opportunity and Obligation: Confirm Judges (Huffington Post, 11/05/14)
Paul Gordon: "During the upcoming lame duck session, the Senate has an opportunity to finish up a critically important task where they can act quickly by unanimous consent or voice votes: confirming two dozen judicial nominees....Eight of these would fill vacancies in three states -- Texas, Georgia, and Kentucky -- where the need is so great that the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts has formally designated them as "judicial emergencies." All three of these states are represented by Republican senators, including the future Majority Leader.... Eight of these would fill vacancies in three states -- Texas, Georgia, and Kentucky -- where the need is so great that the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts has formally designated them as "judicial emergencies." All three of these states are represented by Republican senators, including the future Majority Leader."
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."
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."
Opinion: Tester and Daines wrong on Equal Access to Justice Act (Independent Record [MT], 10/26/14)
Mike Garrity: "Montanans should also find it disturbing that Montana’s Republican Congressman, Steve Daines, and Democratic Senator, Jon Tester, have both said it’s the Equal Access to Justice Act that needs to be changed to keep attorneys from getting paid when they successfully sue the federal government. ... perhaps they would benefit from reading a little of the very long history on the purpose of attorney fee laws. For instance, take the words of Chief Judge Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, who was appointed by President Reagan. “Lawyers must eat, so they generally won't take cases without a reasonable prospect of getting paid,” Kozinski wrote in the 2008 Moreno v. City of Sacramento ruling. “If private citizens are to be able to assert their civil rights, and if those who violate the Nation['s] fundamental laws are not to proceed with impunity, then citizens must have the opportunity to recover what it costs them to vindicate these rights in court.’ Congress emphasized the importance of attorneys' fees in cases seeking injunctive relief, where there is no monetary light at the end of the litigation tunnel: ‘If successful plaintiffs were routinely forced to bear their own attorneys' fees, few aggrieved parties would be in a position to advance the public interest by invoking the injunctive powers of the Federal courts.’”
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: Our View: An end to the stench could finally mean fresh air (News Journal [DE] , 10/21/14)
"Finally, residents living within smelling range of an industrial-scale composting plant got some long overdue sweet news about their neighborhood's atmosphere Tuesday. It will soon be over.
The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, prodded by the evidence of the stink pollution and political leaders' advocacy on behalf of frustrated residents, has ordered the doors of the site closed."
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."
Opinion: Another perspective on environmental law suits (Independent Record [MT], 10/19/14)
GEORGE WUERTHNER: "The real story is that ultimately environmental lawsuits save the taxpayer money by modifying or stopping frivolous timber sales. ... the Forest Service accounting practices do not include the environmental degradation and potential costs of fixing damage from logging. Logging roads are a major vector for weeds. Logging roads are also a major source of sedimentation in our rivers, degrading trout habitat. Logging can degrade elk hiding cover and displace sensitive but rare wildlife like lynx and grizzly bear."athe Forest Service accounting practices do not include the environmental degradation and potential costs of fixing damage from logging. Logging roads are a major vector for weeds. Logging roads are also a major source of sedimentation in our rivers, degrading trout habitat. Logging can degrade elk hiding cover and displace sensitive but rare wildlife like lynx and grizzly bear."
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: 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: 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: Invest in future, not past (Times-Union [NY] , 10/14/14)
"The Sierra Club lawsuit seeks to reverse the state Public Service Commission's approval of the plan's financing, which calls for National Grid customers across New York — including here — to pick up the tab over the next decade for retrofitting the plant. The Sierra Club has it right."
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 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."
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."
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,"
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 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.”"
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.”
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."
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."