Daily Archives: February 23, 2008

Supremacist Judges Attack Our Military

by Phyllis Schlafly

Two separate federal courts, one in San Francisco and the other in Los Angeles, just ordered the United States Navy to limit its use of sonar, the underwater radar essential for tracking enemy submarines and detecting the ocean floor. These rulings tie the hands of our Navy and are the latest outrage committed by judicial supremacists.

The lawsuits were brought by environmental groups on behalf of whales and other sea creatures, using the claim that their ears and brains might be damaged by the sonar. The court rulings allow environmentalism to trump what the Navy needs to do to protect our national interest.

These February rulings followed an anti-military ruling last November by the Ninth Circuit, which invited injunctions against the Navy to restrict its use of sonar. In NRDC v. Winter, the Ninth Circuit held that an “injunction would be appropriate” against the Navy to restrict its use of sonar.

The Navy says it already minimizes risks to marine life and has used sonar for decades without seeing any injuries to whales. The Navy has even said it will shut off the sonar when whales are spotted, but the judge said that’s not good enough because visual monitoring might miss some dolphins and other small animals.

So, chalk up another victory for enemies of our armed forces, internal and external. It seems that the anti-military leftists have picked up judicial activists as their allies.

Why should our Navy have to grovel to federal judges for permission to defend U.S. national security? Most of our Navy’s activities are not even in the United States, and judges should not have the power to interfere with the Navy’s protection of our national interests.

Few persons on our modern judiciary have ever served in the military. Only one Supreme Court Justice is a veteran, Justice John Paul Stevens, and most of our appellate judges have no military service in their backgrounds.

Lawsuits are a poor way to debate and decide which military strategies work best for our nation. We do not want our enemies to have access to our military strategies and technology in open court, and the adversarial process of litigation is not appropriate to deciding what is best for our soldiers and sailors and the country they protect.

Perhaps liberals hope that one day they will be able to sue to obtain an order by a judge telling the President himself what he can no longer do in combating foreign threats. What if a federal judge had ordered President Truman not to drop the atom bomb on Japan because of its environmental impact?

Judges in black robes should not be telling our generals and admirals what they cannot do, and federal courts should not be interfering with the Navy’s duty to patrol the oceans. The Constitution did not make the federal judiciary our Commander in Chief.

Environmentalists have no compunction about filing lawsuits to protect animals at the expense of national security. For years, their litigation prevented a fence from being built on our border at San Diego.

The REAL ID Act, passed in May 2005, withdrew jurisdiction from federal courts over challenges to a fence built on our southern border. This law enabled the San Diego fence to be built without further delay and is now preventing another lawsuit from stopping the building of a fence along the Arizona border.

Unaccountable federal judges should not be giving orders to the United States Navy as it tries to defend our freedoms. Just as power was taken away from federal courts over environmental challenges to the building of a border fence, power should likewise be taken away from federal courts so that they do not interfere with national security.

Congress (including many Democrats) has already stripped jurisdiction from federal courts over the detaining of enemy combatants in Guantanamo Bay. When the Supreme Court found a way to bypass that law, Congress (including many Democrats) passed a new law to reinstate the withdrawal of jurisdiction more broadly, and that law is now before the Supreme Court.

When the anti-military MoveOn.org published its insulting attack against General David Petraeus last fall in the New York Times, the Senate voted 72-25 to condemn that ad. But talk is cheap, and Senate resolutions do not have the force of law.

It’s time for Congress to assume responsibility to protect our national security by stripping the federal courts from jurisdiction over the U.S. Navy.


Further Reading: Judges


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Telecoms Face Double Risk on FISA

Commentary

Quin Hillyer: Telecoms face double risk on FISA

WASHINGTON -Did the House Democratic leadership really sell out national security just to kowtow to rich plaintiffs’ lawyers who fill their campaign coffers?

Prompted by groundbreaking reporting by Townhall’s Amanda Carpenter and columns by Robert Novak and others, the notion that congressional liberals are letting torts trump anti-terrorism is firmly taking hold.

With good reason. Telecommunications companies clearly have much to fear in a major legal and moral catch-22 now that Congress has allowed a key intelligence surveillance law approved in the wake of 9/11 to expire.

The key sticking point in the proposed Protect America Act, which House Democratic leaders blocked last week, is a provision giving the telecoms immunity from lawsuits for helping the surveillance program without specific court orders.

The companies received written assurances from the Justice Department of the program’s legality, but now they face dozens of lawsuits seeking damages (for alleged invasion of privacy) that could run into hundreds of billions of dollars.

Carpenter’s report showed that, while only 29 of 100 senators voted against the bill, 24 of those 29 received campaign cash from one or more of the plaintiffs attorneys in suits already filed against the telecoms. In all, 66 of these lawyers have given some $1.5 million to Democrats. Republicans received just $4,250.

Without immunity, the companies are unlikely to participate in this program that experts of both parties consider vital to anti-terrorism efforts — and would thus hobble the program drastically.

After all, as The Wall Street Journal noted this week, without immunity, the telecoms face double legal jeopardy. If they lose money through the wiretap suits, they become vulnerable to a second round of suits — this time from shareholders for putting the companies at risk.

The diabolical trick is that the same attorneys could seek jackpots both ways. Consider Eric Isaacson, himself a donor of $32,860 in the past six years to Democrats, who has made a career with controversial firms known for just the sort of class-action shareholder suits that The Journal warned about. He worked for 15 years for Milberg Weiss, three of whose top partners have pleaded guilty to a vast criminal kickback scheme that operated while Isaacson was there. The firm and a fourth partner are also under indictment and face trial later this year.

Isaacson joined now-convicted former Milberg Weiss lawyer William Lerach — with whom he has co-authored an academic paper on securities lawsuits — when Lerach split from the firm to form Lerach Coughlin (now Coughlin Stoia), the lead plaintiffs’ firm in the wiretap case Hepting v. AT&T. Attorneys for the two firms have donated millions of dollars to Democratic committees and/or current House and Senate members, almost all Democrats.

Isaacson was not implicated in the Milberg Weiss kickback scheme. The point is he comes from exactly the sort of cutthroat milieu that makes telecoms balk (absent immunity) when asked for an emergency foreign-intelligence wiretap.

Just imagine how Coughlin Stoia could take information gleaned from “discovery” motions in the wiretap suit and use it to try to nail the phone company in a subsequent investors’ suit that is the firm’s stock in trade.

Remember the modus operandi of Milberg Weiss, tactics that Isaacson specializes in defending on appeal. As former partners described in their guilty pleas, the firm would troll for clients with stock in big corporations and then file suit almost any time the share-price dropped, without specific evidence of wrongdoing but based merely on what Lerach called his internal “X-ray vision.”

These tactics are advocated at conferences at posh resorts for judges and law professors sponsored by the Institute for Law and Economic Policy, for which Isaacson is a vice president and Lerach is the former director. They are bullying tactics, the moral equivalent of a shakedown.

Without immunity from such shakedowns, the companies surely would be forced to decline even the most urgent of future government requests. Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte has sworn under oath that the end result “reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.”

The real losers, then, will be the American people whose lives these lawsuits, and the Democratic House leaders, have put at risk.

Examiner