Habeas Porpoise - Marine Mammals vs. Navy Sonar:

I never got around to posting on Winter v. NRDC, the Navy's challenge to a federal court injunction limiting its use of sonar in training activities due to its failure to adequately assess the potential impacts of sonar use on whales under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The result — a 7-2 or 6-3 victory for the Navy (depending on how one counts Justice Breyer) — was not much of a surprise. Nor was the narrowness of Chief Justice Roberts' majority opinion. The Court side-stepped the potentially thorny (and quite interesting) separation of powers issue, focusing instead on how the lower courts' should have balanced the equities and the public interest in weighing NRDC's request for injunctive relief.

While Winter was a fascinating case, I don't think it will have much impact outside of the national security context. Few NEPA cases involve equally weighty government interests, so I doubt Winter will effect how lower courts weigh NEPA claims in more ordinary contexts. Further, environmentalist groups have never had much success advancing NEPA claims before the High Court — indeed, I don't think they've ever won a NEPA case there — so I don't think Winter sets them back all that much.

For more on the case, check out Jamie Colburn's post at Dorf on Law (from which the title of this post is taken).

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Navy, NRDC Settle Whale Suit:
  2. Habeas Porpoise - Marine Mammals vs. Navy Sonar: