June 24, 2008

Border Fence Gets High Court’s OK — Declines to Hear Environmentalists

WASHINGTON - In some good news for the Bush administration, the Supreme Court said Monday it won't stand in the way as the U.S. extends its security fence hundreds of miles along the border with Mexico, allowing building to proceed full-speed despite claims that it harms the environment and animals who live in the area.

Given sporadic attention for years, the concept of a border fence took on new life after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which also revived the nation's heated immigration debate. Intelligence officials have said the holes along the southwest border could provide places for terrorists to enter the country.

On Monday, the court declined to hear arguments in a case brought by environmental groups that could have slowed or even halted the multibillion-dollar fence project that stretches from the Pacific surf at Tijuana to the Gulf of Mexico near Brownsville, Texas. Some 331 miles of fencing had been constructed as of June 13, with about as much still to go.

Fourteen House Democrats had filed a brief in support of the environmentalists' appeal.

"Without a comprehensive plan, this fence is just another quick fix," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., one of the signers. He chairs the House Homeland Security Committee.


Other action

On Monday, the Supreme Court also: Agreed to consider an appeals court ruling that limits the Navy's use of sonar off the Southern California coast because of potential harm to dolphins and whales.

Turned down a plea by environmental groups to rein in the Bush administration's power to waive laws and regulations to speed construction of a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Threw out a ruling in which a federal appeals court, without being asked to do so, added 15 years to a convicted man's prison sentence.

Ruled that a collection agency with no financial stake in a case can sue on behalf of its customers.

Said a defendant's right to a lawyer begins when he is brought before a judge, informed why he has been arrested and jailed.

Agreed to decide whether decades-old maternity leaves should count in determining pensions.

Intervened in a lawsuit by an Internet service provider accusing AT&T of anti-competitive practices.

- Associated Press


Originally published by Associated Press .

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