While progressives everywhere are basking in the knowledge that liberal Democrats now control two of the three estates of the federal government, it is worth remembering that despite the voters' mandate, the Right still controls (barely, by a one-vote margin) the third: namely, the Supreme Court. And the right-wing Federalist Society dogmatists now sitting on the court are not only capable, but extremely likely, to wreak havoc with that mandate.
We received an unpleasant reminder of that reality this week:
The nation's need for Navy sailors to practice using sonar to guard against enemy submarines "plainly outweighs" any legal requirement to protect orcas and other marine mammals, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, turning back environmentalists' efforts to restrict sonar use during naval training exercises.
Quoting a 1907 statement by President Theodore Roosevelt -- "the only way in which a navy can ever be made efficient is by practice at sea" -- the high court's five-member conservative majority said lower courts had improperly restricted naval exercises off Southern California.
But the justices in the majority stopped short of endorsing a Bush administration attempt to justify using a controversial White House waiver to justify the exercises.
When the lower court's ruling was announced earlier this year, it appeared to be a significant win for environmentalists, not to mention the cetaceans affected by these tests. It was also a win for the rule of law, considering the Bush administration's egregious lawbreaking in attempting to foist these tests on us.
But the court took care not to address that issue: