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Soundings Archive

Ninth Circuit Stays District Court Navy Sonar Injunction
The latest chapter in the NGOs attack on Navy sonar occurred when the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stayed the lower court's preliminary injunction against the Navy's use of mid-frequency sonar off the coast of Southern California. The stay is only effective pending a final decision on review of the district court's injunction, so the Navy could ultimately lose the case on appeal.

On appeal, the Navy sought accelerated review and argued that the district court order jeopardized the national security and sailor's lives. The Ninth Circuit's majority opinion stated that the district court's opinion was overbroad because it was a blanket prohibition, rather than allowing sonar use but only subject to certain mitigation requirements. The majority opinion also stated that the district court did not adequately consider the national interest when it issued its injunction.

On the other hand, the Ninth Circuit majority opinion criticized the Navy for not agreeing to mitigation requirements that the Navy had applied in other sonar operations.

One judge dissented from the Ninth Circuit opinion, in part because the Navy had not accepted mitigation requirements that it had applied in the past.

  • Click here to read Ninth Circuit opinion

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