Bush Policy Irks Western Judges
Submitted by the Western Shoshone Defense Project
By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Staff Writer
SEATTLE, Oct. 5 -- Using language that suggests they are fed up with the Bush administration, federal judges across the West have issued a flurry of rulings in recent weeks, chastising the government for repeated and sometimes willful failure to enforce laws protecting fish, forests, wildlife and clean air.
In decisions in Oregon, California, Montana and Wyoming, judges have criticized the judgment, expertise and, in some cases, integrity of the federal agencies that manage natural resources on public lands.
The rulings come at a time when an emerging bipartisan coalition of western politicians, hunters, anglers and homeowners has joined conservation groups in objecting to the rapid pace and environmental consequences of President Bush's policies for energy extraction on federal land.
Specialists in environmental law cite a noticeable increase in the number of recent court rulings in which federal judges in the West have ruled against the administration, using blunt language that shows impatience and annoyance.
"You are seeing frustration in the federal judiciary," said Dan Rohlf, a law professor at Lewis & Clark Law School, in Portland, Ore. The law school has the nation's oldest environmental law program. "When judges express that frustration on paper, which is not all that often, they are often reflecting what they see as a systematic effort to get around the law."
The most scathing and exasperated of the recent court orders came late last month out of Portland, where U.S. District Judge James A. Redden has presided for six years over a stalled federal effort to prevent endangered salmon from going extinct in the Columbia and Snake rivers.
Federal agencies "have repeatedly and collectively failed to demonstrate a willingness to do what is necessary" under the Endangered Species Act to save fish at risk of extinction, wrote Redden, who was appointed in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter.
Responding to Redden's language and to other recent critical comments by federal judges in the West, Justice Department spokeswoman Cynthia J. Magnuson said: "It is regrettable whenever a court chooses to examine and speculate about the motives of a federal agency rather than applying the applicable laws to the facts of the case."
The agencies that Redden said are refusing to enforce the law include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which leads the salmon-recovery program, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration, which markets power from federal dams on the rivers.
Federal court rulings in much of the West are appealed to the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Like lower courts in the West, it has often been caustically critical of the Bush administration
Velma M. Smith
National Environmental Trust
1200 Eighteenth St, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
AICCN SETS LUNCHEON AT SAM'S TOWN CASINO
Keynote speakers at the American Indian Chamber Of Commerce of Nevada luncheon are Anna Siefert, Operations Manager/WBC Project Director for the 9Nevada Microenterprise Initiative; Debbie Richow, Business Development Specialist, U.S. Small Business Administration and Janis Stevenson,Business Development Advisor, Nevada Small Business Center, University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
AICCN, which assists Native Americans and Alaskan Natives with education, employment and self-employment opportunities, has scheduled the event for October 25th at Sam’s Town Casino from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The luncheon price is $30 for members, $35 for non-members and $40 for walk-ins. No shows will be billed. The deadline for reservations is Friday, October 20th.
To make reservations and for more information call 702-693-6698 or e-mail- email@example.com
9TH CIRCUIT COURT BLOCKS AZ VOTER ID LAW
Submitted by Daniel Levitas, ACLU
As previously reported, in a victory for voting rights advocates, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction yesterday blocking Arizona's law mandating voters show ID at polling places and proof of citizenship when registering to vote.
Click here for Associated Press coverage and here for a response from the Arizona secretary of state who is seeking an immediate reversal of the injunction. For the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law news release, click here.
In November 2004, 56% of Arizona voters approved Proposition 200, a statewide referendum requiring individuals to provide proof of citizenship before they register to vote or when they apply for public benefits, and requiring identification at the polls on Election Day. A lawsuit was filed in December 2004 challenging the “public benefits” aspect of the measure. Three separate federal lawsuits have recently been filed challenging the voting-relating provisions of Prop 200 that require proof of citizenship during registration and identification at the polls.
According to plaintiffs, Proposition 200’s proof of citizenship requirement blocked nearly 21,000 Arizonans from registering to vote. Those three lawsuits have been consolidated and although the federal district court refused to grant injunctive relief, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals did so on October 5, granting without comment an injunction that bars enforcement of the law's voter identification and registration provisions so that eligible voters can register before the October 9 registration deadline, and enjoins Proposition 200’s polling place identification requirements so that citizens can vote in this year’s critical mid-term election.
NATIVE VOTERS - STAND UP, BE HEARD!
Alyssa Macy, Four Directions
On NOVEMBER 7, Native American voters will participate in important local, state, and federal elections. In states with sizable Native American populations including Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Washington, Minnesota and Wisconsin, Native voters are being courted by partisan and non-partisan efforts.
The Indigenous Democratic Network (INDN’s List), a partisan effort, has also endorsed several Native Americans running for office in Washington, Oklahoma, Montana, North Dakota, and Colorado. Despite fewer dollars being spent on non-partisan efforts this year, the increase in Native candidates and partisan dollars will surely have an impact on overall Native voter turnout.
In 2004, the Native Vote effort brought unprecedented attention to Native voters and issues. Voter registration, education, and get-out-the-vote efforts were held in tribal communities across the country funded primarily by Tribes and Foundations. It was also a year where elected officials and candidates took notice of the Native Vote and there were increases in candidate and partisan events in tribal communities. Some candidates went as far to develop platforms on tribal issues.
When it was all said and done, the post-election analysis of the Native Vote 2004 effort in 8 states saw increases of 50 to 150 percent in voter turnout where efforts existed.
In 2006, the Native Vote is as important, if not more, for our communities. While voting gives Native people the ability to hold elected officials accountable, it is also an important tool in protecting tribal sovereignty and ensuring that the federal government upholds treaty obligations.
With the entire U.S. House of Representatives up for election and key Senate and Governor races in states with large Native populations, the Native Vote is once again poised to be heard loud and clear. Through educating, voting, and running our own candidates, we are taking our rightful seat at the political table and being a part of the discourse that is shaping our communities.
The midterm elections are around the corner and there are many things that individuals and organizations can do to mobilize voters. Following is a list of things that are quick, easy, and FREE that will help to mobilize voters in your community. These include:
*Make sure you are registered to vote! If you haven’t registered or if you have moved since the last election, make sure you fill out a new registration form. You can get more information about registration requirements from your Secretary of State office.
*Educate on how to vote and the voting process. This includes announcing dates of elections and deadlines, setting up mock voting machines, and displaying (or printing) sample ballots. You can get this information from your local Election Office.
*Talking to people about the importance of voting. This includes: family & friends, elders, tribal leaders, student groups, tribal radio stations and newspapers, community services, anyone with a bumper stickers on their car, a political button or t-shirt.
*Put an article in your agency or school newsletter and your tribal newsletter that goes out close to Election Day, encouraging everyone to vote.
*Send emails to your family, friends, co-workers, consumers or clients, and volunteers encouraging them to vote.
*Display a poster in your main lobby and other common areas near Election Day with information about polling places and simple message to VOTE NOVEMBER 7.
*Publicize information on referenda or other ballot initiatives to ensure that community members are aware of them and their potential impact. It is also helpful to paraphrase complicated initiatives in plain language so that voters are less intimidated.
*Text message savvy? TxtVoter.org allows you to get information registering to vote as well as registering your friends to vote. All for FREE on their website.
*Include a VOTE NOVEMBER 7 reminder in the payroll envelopes that go out closest to Election Day.
*Do an “office knock” or “community knock” on the day before Election Day—make the rounds in your place of employment or neighborhood and remind people to VOTE NOVEMBER 7.
*New or infrequent voters need multiple reminders to vote in order for the reminders to be effective. Do another “office knock” or “community knock” on Election Day—make the rounds one more time and remind family, friends, and co-workers to VOTE TODAY.
*Car pool to the polls with family, friends, co-workers, consumers or clients, and volunteers who live in your precinct—on your way to work, on a morning break, on your lunch hour, or after work. Make it fun and social!
*Include a VOTE NOVEMBER 7.reminder in any group meetings or programs that your agency holds in the month leading up to Election Day.
*Put a VOTE NOVEMBER 7 message in your email signature so that every email you send reminds people to vote.
*Take time off on Election Day—or even part of it! Many groups throughout Indian Country are running nonpartisan get-out-the-vote programs on Election Day and they need volunteers to knock on doors, give rides to the polls, and make phone calls to eligible voters.
*Host an Election Night family or community gathering to people together to watch the elections returns come in. Make sure that gathering spot has televisions and couches and if possible, computers with internet connectivity (for up-to-the-minute results). This is a great way to encourage informal interaction between family and/or community members.
Let’s build on the successes of 2004 -- stand up and BE HEARD on November 7.
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