NATION IN BRIEF
Thursday, October 21, 2004; Page A13
Marine Mammals May Not Sue President, Court Rules
LOS ANGELES -- 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 Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, widely considered one of the most liberal and activist in the country, said it saw no reason 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 H. Rumsfeld on behalf of "the cetacean community" -- defined as the world's whales, porpoises and dolphins -- by their self-appointed lawyer, marine mammal activist Lanny Sinkin.