The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA., quoted a line from Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” in its ruling against the United States Forest Service recently. The USFS had granted a private company a permit to build a natural gas pipeline through national forest land and across the Appalachian Trail. The appeals court decided that the Forest Service lacked the authority to do so and that it “abdicated its responsibility to preserve national forest resources” in granting the permit.
The three-judge panel quoted the “The Lorax” in the ruling, saying: “We trust the United States Forest Service to ‘speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.’”
The judges cited environmental damage such as the removal of trees and other vegetation and the 50-foot wide right of way that would have to be maintained for the life of the pipeline for its decision, which will preclude any further work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline pending appeal.
The pipeline’s lead developer, Dominion Energy, told NPR that it will appeal the court’s ruling. A company spokesman stated: “If allowed to stand, this decision will severely harm consumers and do great damage to our economy and energy security. Public utilities are depending on this infrastructure to meet the basic energy needs of millions of people and businesses in our region.”
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling calls to mind other famous instances of courts citing Dr. Seuss in their findings. Who can forget Justice White’s and Justice Rehnquist’s dissent in Roe v. Wade in which they wrote: “A person’s a person, no matter how small,” and added, “If you’d never been born, then you might be an Isn’t! An Isn’t has no fun at all. No, he didn’t!”
The Supreme Court of the United States also cited Seuss in its 1997 ruling on Clinton v. Jones, writing: “It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how,” and adding, “We’re sorry to say so, but sadly it’s true, that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.”
In August of 2016, a federal court ruled against North Dakota’s voter I.D. laws, stating in part that: “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”
One federal court recently found, in the free speech case Comedians v. Campuses, that: “From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere. Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!”
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that the “border wall” is Constitutional, with the majority writing: “We meant what we said and we said what we meant. Our wonderful weapon, the Jigger-Rock Snatchem, will fling ‘em right back just as quick as we catch ‘em.”
The 10th Circuit Court, in a recent ruling on transgender bathroom access, stated: “They say we’re old-fashioned, and live in the past, but sometimes we think progress progresses too fast!”
Then, of course, there was the famous 2017 finding against the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, by the 8th Circuit Court, in the UNIGPCC v. Reality, of which the majority wrote: “We know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny. It’s high time you were shown. That you really don’t know. All there is to be known.”
I will close by citing Dr. Seuss myself, in an unfunny warning to all Western nations. Wake up and grow a pair! Defend your traditions and your citizens. Or, someday soon, you’ll be left to wonder: “How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before its afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”
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