Court rules that whales and dolphins can’t sue

“…” Did you hear that? That was us breaking the bad news to the whale community: They can’t sue the U.S. government. Such was the unanimous ruling of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week, responding to a lawsuit against President Bush brought on behalf of “the cetacean community” by Hawaii lawyer Lanny Sinkin. At issue is the Navy’s use of low-frequency sonar, which is believed to cause tissue damage and other injuries in whales. Currently, the law allows only humans to sue, when they are affected by some threat to animals. But this doesn’t help animals “in the middle of nowhere,” said Sinkin. “We were trying to close that gap.” The attorney does not plan to appeal to the Supreme Court, generally considered less sympathetic to environmental regulations than the 9th Circuit. The only way for the whales to get standing now would be for the law itself to change. “But that,” said Sinkin, “will depend on who wins the presidency and who wins the Congress.” Too bad the whale lobby can’t reach landlocked swing states.

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