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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Defenders of Wildlife

Editorials and Opinion


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Editorial: Gun grandstanding; The state law exempting Kansas-made guns from federal regulation raises some interesting legal questions. (Lawrence Journal-World [KS], 07/21/14)
"The statute makes it a felony for any federal employee to enforce federal gun regulations on Kansas only-weapons. ... It’s pretty obvious that the Second Amendment Protection Act was intended more as a political protest than as a practical benefit for Kansans. Only time will tell how many tax dollars the state will spend to defend a law that has little chance of standing up to constitutional scrutiny."

EDITORIAL: At Long Last, Justice for Ronnie White (New York Times, 07/19/14)
"Mr. White’s well-deserved approval for the federal bench was at least 15 years overdue.... Republicans joined in partisan lockstep to block his confirmation after a smear campaign led by Senator John Ashcroft of Missouri. Mr. Ashcroft depicted Mr. White’s reasoned refusal to rubber-stamp prosecutorial calls for the death penalty in every case as evidence of “a tremendous bent toward criminal activity.” At the time, Mr. Ashcroft was facing a tough re-election fight and seized on the death penalty as a wedge issue. His strategy included trumped-up charges against Mr. White, which culminated in the Senate’s vote to kill the nomination in October 1999."

Editorial: Bison talks must stay cooperative (Bozeman Daily Chonicle [MT], 07/18/14)
"Members of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks Bison Discussion Group are to be commended....The very idea of establishing a wild bison population has met bitter resistance from landowners and ranchers ... even those who live in areas where bison are introduced stand to benefit, with new economic opportunities stemming from ecotourism."

Eagle editorial: Prairie chicken plan misguided (Wichita Eagle [KS] , 07/18/14)
"Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan for the state to raise and release lesser prairie chickens didn’t help his argument that Kansas should be trusted to protect the threatened species. It’s hard to be taken seriously when scientists are laughing.... “It’s almost impossible to conceive how someone could violate the rule other than by deliberately going out and shooting a chicken,” said Jason Rylander, a staff attorney for Defenders of Wildlife, one of three environmental groups that are suing for more aggressive protections of the birds."

Editorial: A condor is born, and Utah is a little better place; New Utahn is an old friend. (Salt Lake Tribune [UT] , 07/17/14)
"For the first time in decades, a California condor has hatched in Utah.... this is just the tale of what happens when one species takes on the task of preserving another for no other reason than to continue the vast tapestry of living things on the planet. Call it a vulture of diversity."

Print headline: 15 years later, justice is served (Washington Post, 07/16/14)
Paul Kane: "By 2013, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who holds Ashcroft’s old seat, pushed White for another nomination. After his 2001 testimony, some Republicans apologized to him, and Hatch told reporters at the time that Republicans wished they could “revisit” the White vote....On Wednesday, just one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), supported White’s nomination. Hatch, again voting no, saw no sign of easing tensions on nomination fights for the rest of Obama’s term."

Editorial: Climate change deniers ignore real devastating dangers (Charleston Gazette [WV] , 07/16/14)
"West Virginia politicians oppose federal pollution controls — but they never mention the higher cost being paid by the whole nation. Rep. McKinley wants to order federal agencies to pretend that climate change isn’t happening. That’s like King Canute absurdly commanding ocean tides to cease."

EDITORIAL: Foolish gun measures in Kansas, Missouri draw welcome opposition (Kansas City Star, 07/15/14)
"Indeed, courts have consistently ruled that federal law trumps state law. And state laws that attempt to nullify federal laws have been declared unconstitutional. As U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a 2012 letter to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, “a state certainly may not criminalize the exercise of federal responsibilities.”...A federal appeals court last year struck down a similar Montana law. The U.S. Supreme Court has twice declined to review the case."

Editorial How California can best fight climate change (Los Angeles Times, 07/14/14)
"California may be ahead of the rest of the nation in the crucial effort to stave off the worst of global warming, but recent reports have made it clear that the state must intensify its efforts if it is to meet its emissions goals for the decades beyond."

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."