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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wall Street Journal Will NOT Save the Whales

It’s always interesting (so to speak) to read the Wall Street Journal’s take on Supreme Court cases. What’s that saying about knowing thy enemy? Anyway, today’s editorial section contained a particularly riveting piece entitled “The Greens Get Harpooned.” Apparently, the Journal’s editorial board finds efforts to protect endangered species laughable, and considers any foray by the justices into “military matters” the definition of leftwing recklessness.

The case to which today’s editorial refers, is NRDC v. Winter – a suit brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council to limit the Navy’s use of long-range sonar in military training programs. The Council argues that the sonar is harmful to marine life, particularly marine mammals. The Navy argues that these sonar exercises are necessary to ensure military readiness – specifically in regards to protecting the U.S. from submarine warfare.

First of all, we’d like to point out that the Navy won the case. But apparently the Journal isn’t concerned with being a poor-winner. Secondly, we take issue with their claim that the Navy’s long-range sonar poses a “nonexistent threat” to marine life. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that a) increased trans-oceanic shipping has left whales unable to hear the calls of potential mates and b) the particularly strong sound-waves used in long-range sonar disorients marine mammals (dolphins and whales) resulting in increased instances of beaching. The Navy itself acknowledges that their training exercises would likely result in the death of 170,000 marine mammals.

Apart from the total disregard for environmental concerns, we find it interesting that the Journal seems to think that the Court’s so-called “liberal bloc” is engaging in an all-out assault on the president’s military authority. We can only assume that the paper’s editorial board is not-so-subtly referring to last term’s decision in Boumediene v. Bush – widely renounced by conservatives as a usurpation of executive authority.

Interestingly enough, these critics never seem to be bothered by President Bush’s total lack of regard for constitutional limits on his authority – all those annoying checks and balances. Never mind that the president circumvented the justice system by creating the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Never mind that he ignored centuries of precedent when formulating his interrogation policy. All that the Journal seems to care about is that the Court is encroaching on “wartime military matters.”

Well, as far as this case is concerned, we’d like to put the Journal editorial board at ease. First of all, NRDC was simply asking that the Navy turn off their sonar machines when whales are spotted nearby. Secondly, despite the Journal’s assertion that the Court’s incursion into Navy sonar policy threatens our military capability during wartime, we are pretty sure that the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan haven’t yet obtained long-range submarines.

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