Supreme Court rules in favor of the Navy

justices-topperSadly the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the US Navy in the recent gambit on the mitigation measures proposed by the California Coastal Commission.

The vote was 6-3, with Justices Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy joining an opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts. Justice Breyer filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Stevens joined as to the concurrence. Ginsburg and Souter dissented outright.

The opinion can be read here:

http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/08pdf/07-1239.pdf

The first few pages are the Syllabus and condense the arguments in the opinion. These pages are a good read and explain much of what the case was about, and how the Court viewed the arguments.

Some of the highlights (or low points) include the court deferring to the Navy’s expertise:

“Military interests do not always trump other considerations, and the Court has not held that they do, but courts must give deference to the professional judgment of military authorities concerning the relative importance of a particular military interest.”

This would not be so troubling to me if we could trust the Navy’s true motives and their record of being forthright and honest in matters of “National Security.”

The judgment also compromises the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) around the mechanisms and needs to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS):

“There is accordingly no basis for enjoining such training pending preparation of an EIS—if one is determined to be required—when doing so is credibly alleged to pose a serious threat to national security.”

So we have a situation here where the Navy Experts can determine the value of the public (environmental) interest in their training exercises, and determine if delaying them with an EIS would “threaten national security.”

Greg Stohr gives some wider ranging considerations here: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=agB_f1yIavFo&refer=home

His article refers to the executive powers issue inasmuch as he mentions that the pesticide, forest products, agricultural and home building industries were behind the Bush administration’s position on the case

I don’t know what to say here except “oh well…”

Much appreciation goes to the NRDC team who have done a sterling job on this entire case – even in the face of a challenging Supreme Court.