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Packing The Courts Against Mother Earth


By James Donahue


George W. Bush is an environmental criminal. Not only is he dismantling a system of Earth friendly laws that have been slowly put in place over the past 30 years, he is packing the federal courts with judges that may strive to keep them dismantled.


While not enough by themselves, the environmental laws, ranging from the Clean Air Act to the Endangered Species Act, have been formidable weapons for those of us working to protect the planet. Litigation has become an essential tool for activists.


When Bush took office in 2001 there were more than 100 vacancies on the federal bench. It is the responsibility of a sitting president to fill those positions, and Mr. Bush has been busy selecting candidates of his choice. According to a report by April Reese in The Environmental Magazine (March '04) critics say that instead of choosing potential judges with strong records of upholding the law, Bush's nominations are an orchestrated attempt to spread his ideology.


Unfortunately, the Bush ideology is a bit jaded. He is a fundamental Christian that believes in an apocalyptic destruction of the old Earth, the rapture of the "saints" into heaven, followed by a divine reconstruction of "a new heaven and a new Earth."


Because of this angelic-inspired and programmed belief system, Mr. Bush seems to have no concerns for the "old" planet. He has demonstrated a willingness to allow big business to have a free reign in its quest to continue polluting and pillaging our natural resources for profit.


As author Gore Vidal so eloquently expressed it: "(Bush) may really believe these are the end of times. What difference does it make? The world's going to end anyway. Why save the environment? Save it for what, you know? We're all going to be upstairs as sunbeams for Jesus."


Reese noted that "It's not unusual for a president to nominate like-minded judges. But with so many seats vacant, Bush has a unique opportunity to stock the courts with political soul mates."


She quotes Glenn Sugameli, environmental lawyer with Earthjustice: "The federal government's ability to enforce the law and to protect people is at issue here. There is the ability to change how judges will be ruling on a whole range of issues."


According to the Senate Judiciary Committee, about 52 vacancies remain of the 877-member federal judiciary. And about 50 presidential nominations are waiting to be considered by either the committee or the full Senate.


If he gets a second term, Bush also seems likely to have the opportunity to appoint at least two new judges to the Supreme Court. "With many controversial cases decided 5-4, the replacement of even one justice particularly the decidedly left-leaning Justice Stevens, age 81 could have a big impact on the court's rulings," Reed wrote.


Once confirmed, federal judges stay on the bench for life.


Thus it is possible that the environmental and religious/political mischief activated on federal levels by the Bible-thumping Bush Administration will live on through the courts for many years to come.


There has been resistance to this movement, however, by Senate Democrats, who have succeeded in tying up some of the more controversial nominees. But with Republicans holding a slim majority in the Senate, the hold-out is slipping. A decision by voters this year will swing the courts in one direction or the other.


Unfortunately, psychic Aaron C. Donahue says he still sees Mr. Bush getting another term.

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