Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Ultrasound and Ultra-Human Chauvinists
The worst part of the Nov. 12 US Supreme Court ruling on the Navy's use of high-powered sonar is not just that marine mammals face a real and immediate threat as soon as the tests resume. The worst aspect of the 5-4 ruling is that Chief Justice John Roberts said that real harm does not have to be proved. If the Navy needs a specific technology for realistic testing, then the "public interest" outweighs the survival of a specific species, and requires the tests proceed.
I'm sure the sentient beings that live underwater would argue that a Supreme Court stacked 9-0 in favor of humans does not give them a jury of their peers. I am a firm believer, in opposition to Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, that the Constitution is indeed a suicide pact - if the needs of the state override the Bill of Rights, override international rules against torture, override the Endangered Species Act, then the state should fall, since its principles are more important than its mere existence. But the U.S. government doesn't appear ready to fall on its own sword any time soon. More's the pity for all you whales out there.