A panelist at last week's enemy combatant symposium at UCLA put forward what he believed a ridiculous scenario as proof that congressional statutes can't trump the war powers of the President. The National Environmental Policy Act requires the government to get an environmental impact statement before it takes any action, he noted. Would anyone seriously argue that the President needs an EIS before troops go to battle? The vision of environmentalist legions litigating the war to an end bemused.
But his was no silly-season story. Just this January, the California Coastal Commission ruled 8-1 that the U.S. Navy could not go forward with sonar-testing in the Pacific unless it took certain measures to cut the sonar's harm to whales and other living, swimming creatures. Though the Navy reportedly rebuffed the Commission this week, last summer it settled a sonar challenge involving Hawaiian marine mammals.
Perhaps holding the President to Congress' ban on cruelty in time of crisis isn't crazy after all.