As you know, Pacific Legal Foundation‘s Atlantic Center has scored two recent victories in the battle to keep the federal government honest. Christina Martin, one of PLF’s College of Public Interest Law fellows, wrote about the Fish & Wildlife Service’s decision to downlist the wood stork here, and she wrote about Fish & Wildlife Service’s decision to review the status of the manatee here. The government took both of those actions in response to ongoing PLF pressure to follow federal law, pressure that Martin and the rest of the Atlantic Center team brought to bear.
Florida news media has taken notice of these PLF victories. After stories featuring PLF were published in the St. Augustine Record, the Fort Myers News-Press, and elsewhere, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel decided to do a more in-depth story featuring our successes and a few PLF critics. You can read that story at this link.
Although this Sun-Sentinel story itself is relatively fair (the headline not so much), the fact remains that there is much left out of the story. PLF focuses on its environmental cases not because we want to ‘threaten’ any species (despite the misleading headline in the Sun-Sentinel article), but rather because we expect—as citizens of the United States—for the federal government to follow the law.
Here, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) required the government to act within a period of time to follow its own recommendation to downlist the wood stork because of the gains made in wood stork population; similarly, the ESA required the government to act in regards to the gains made in the manatee population, as well. If federal law required a private citizen to take action, we are quite certain that the government would not hesitate to bring the full force of its authority (and then some) to enforce the law against the citizen who purportedly failed to do so.
Americans should expect its federal government to follow the same laws that the government expects Americans to follow.