Tag Archives: court of appeals

Court blocks use of insecticide believed to contribute to bees’ disappearance

A federal appeals court has blocked the use of a pesticide over concerns about its effect on honey bees, which have mysteriously disappeared across the country in recent years.

In her opinion, Judge Mary M. Schroeder, one of three judges who sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit panel, wrote that the Environmental Protection Agency had initially decided to conditionally approve the chemical — sulfoxaflor  — but ordered more studies to better understand the effects of the systemic insecticide on bees.

“A few months later, however, the EPA unconditionally registered the insecticides with certain mitigation measures and a lowering of the maximum application rate,” Schroeder wrote. “It did so without obtaining any further studies.”

“Given the precariousness of bee populations, leaving the EPA’s registration of sulfoxaflor in place risks more potential environmental harm than vacating it,” she added.

“Because the EPA’s decision to unconditionally register was based on flawed and limited data, we conclude that the unconditional approval was not supported by substantial evidence,” the court wrote.

The product, sold in the U.S. as Transform or Closer, must be pulled from store shelves by Oct. 18.

The judgment is a huge victory for environmentalists.

Sulfoxaflor belongs to a group of insecticides known as neonicotinoids (NEE-OH-NIC-DUH-NIDES), according to the Ninth Circuit ruling. Neonicotinoids are suspected of being among several factors that have contributed to the collapse of honey bee colonies throughout the U.S.

Bees, especially honeybees, are needed to pollinate crops, and they are considered essential to the U.S. food supply.

But a disorder has caused as much as one-third of the nation’s bees to disappear each winter since 2006. A 2013 report issued by the EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture cited a parasitic mite, multiple viruses, bacteria, poor nutrition, genetics, habitat loss and pesticides as factors for the bees’ disappearance.

“We’re certainly extremely happy,” said Greg Loarie, an attorney with the group Earthjustice, which challenged the EPA’s approval of sulfoxaflor on behalf of groups in the beekeeping industry. “It means that sulfoxaflor comes off the market while the EPA does the work it should have done a long time ago.”

Loarie said the pesticide was used on cotton in southern states, but it had only been approved on an emergency basis for one crop in California.

Oral arguments in Wisconsin, Indiana marriage cases set for Aug. 26

UPDATED: The Aug. 13 hearing set for the oral argument in the Wisconsin marriage equality case was canceled.

The new hearing date is Aug. 26.

A notice from the court on July 25 said, “It is ordered that this case be orally argued on Tuesday, August 26 … in the Main Courtroom, Room 2721 of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, 219 S. Dearborn St., Chicago, Illinois, at 9:30 a.m.”

The notice limited each party to 20 minutes.

Represented by the ACLU, same-sex couples challenging Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriages had objected to the state’s request that the full 7th Circuit Court of Appeals hear arguments in the case. The ACLU said that would delay the appeal and put a burden on the court without any benefit.

The court has now denied Wisconsin’s petition for an initial hearing en banc, as well as denied the petition for a hearing by the full panel of the court that came from Indiana. The notice from the court, also released on July 25, said a majority of the judges in regular service had voted to deny an initial hearing en banc. 

Federal judges have struck down bans in both Wisconsin and Indiana. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals consolidated the cases. Oral argument had been scheduled for Aug. 13, but the court has canceled that session and rescheduled the arguments for Aug. 26.

Online …

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Michigan court OKs partner benefits for state workers

A divided Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld a state commission’s decision to provide health insurance to same-sex domestic partners of state employees.

In a 2-1 ruling, the court said it’s not the place of courts to second-guess the wisdom of state action.

Over objections from Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration, the Michigan Civil Service Commission in January 2011 voted to have the state health insurance plan cover non-family members who’ve lived continuously with state workers for at least a year. GOP Attorney General Bill Schuette sued, saying the move was unconstitutional.

But the appeals court ruled the policy doesn’t conflict with a 2004 gay marriage ban that also prohibits the recognition of “similar” unions. Majority judges said it’s clear state employees can share benefits with a wide variety of other people besides only a gay partner.

“The policy appears to serve the negotiated, bargained-for needs of the individuals affected, and so we conclude that the policy passes muster under rational basis scrutiny,” Judges Amy Ronayne Krause and Stephen Borrello wrote in the majority decision, which affirms a ruling by an Ingham County judge.

Schuette vowed an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Dissenting Judge Michael Riordan said there was no evidence that the domestic-partner policy aims to attract and retain a qualified workforce.

If there were, he said, “there is no rational basis to arbitrarily draw the line between unmarried and married employees or related and unrelated individuals.”

In December 2011, Snyder signed a law blocking taxpayer-paid health insurance from being offered to domestic partners living with public employees. The measure – which is being challenged in federal court _ doesn’t apply to public universities or many state employees.

The Civil Service Commission has constitutional responsibility for setting rates of compensation and benefits for nearly 50,000 state workers.

On the Web…

The case is Attorney General v. Civil Service Commission: