Wed 20 October, 2004 20:24
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The world's whales, porpoises and dolphins have no standing to sue President Bush over the U.S. Navy's use of sonar equipment that harms marine mammals, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, widely considered one of the most liberal and activist in the country, said it saw no reason why animals should not be allowed to sue but said they had not yet been granted that right.
"If Congress and the President intended to take the extraordinary step of authorizing animals as well as people and legal entities to sue they could and should have said so plainly," Judge William A. Fletcher wrote in an 18-page opinion for the panel.
The lawsuit was brought against Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on behalf The Cetacean Community -- defined as the world's whales, porpoises and dolphins -- by their self-appointed lawyer, marine mammal activist Lanny Sinkin.
Sinkin claimed in the lawsuit that the U.S. Navy had violated the Endangered Species Act with its use of long range, low frequency sonar that can cause tissue damage and other injuries to marine mammals.
Sinkin could not be reached for comment on the 9th Circuit's decision, which upheld a lower court ruling.