New York Times comments on Navy sonar case

I didn’t catch a notable New York Times editorial the week the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case that could decide the limits of presidential authority in overriding environmental laws.

Immediately after the hearing, which involved Navy sonar and marine mammals, I posted an entry on Watching Our Water Ways and later listed numerous news reports about the hearing and what the justices had to say.

In an editorial Oct. 11, the New York Times commented:

We hope the Supreme Court has the sense to assert its authority over military activities that can cause environmental harm far from any battlefield. Some of the justices’ comments this week sounded as though they were feeling far too deferential to the military…

It was dismaying to hear Justice Stephen Breyer assert that “I don’t know anything about this. I’m not a naval officer.” It was discouraging that Justice Samuel Alito found it “incredibly odd” that a district court judge had concluded that her restrictions would not compromise the Navy’s training when the Navy claimed they would…

Few justices are truly expert in most of the issues they confront. Yet they have no qualms about ruling on cases that involve complex political, social, economic, scientific or medical issues… Surely the Supreme Court has the ability to judge whether the military should be allowed to flout environmental laws with a dubious claim of national security.

I believe, as I’ve said before, that this issue rests on a balance between the needs of the Navy to train adequately and the needs of marine mammals to live and thrive. The Navy has come a long way in protecting the environment, and I’m not saying the restrictions imposed by a federal judge are the right ones. However, the military does not function outside of our government, which depends on checks and balances at all levels.

One thought on “New York Times comments on Navy sonar case

  1. All else being equal, I agree with you.

    However, ‘things’ are not equal.
    We have countries and people who hate Americans and America….9-11 should have been a big wake-up call.

    Yes, the whales must be protected…but not to the exclusion of training for our submarine fleet. ‘Adequate’ training is not good enough…we should have Superior training to keep the cutting edge on our defense system.

    If we are conquered by a country/s indifferent to the environment – how long do you think the whales will last?

    In the meantime ‘something’ should be invented to repel whales from ships – all ships.
    Surely we have scientific researchers or gadget inventors to assist in our whale dilemma …but …until something is found, we should not slow or unreasonably regulate our submarine defense.
    training..
    Sharon O’Hara

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