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Top court upholds sonar use in exercises

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday upheld the Navy's power to use sonar during exercises even though the technology threatens marine life.

The decision, the first of the court's term, came in the case of Winter vs. National Resources Defense Council et al. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority for the matter.

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The court partly overturned a federal judge's order against the use of sonar at least until the Navy took measures to alleviate the threat to whales, dolphins and other marine mammals in the training zone off the Pacific Coast, Scotusblog reported.

The ruling set aside the District Court injunction to the extent it was challenged by the Navy.

In the ruling, Roberts wrote "the Navy's need to conduct realistic training with active sonar to respond to the threat posed by enemy submarines plainly outweighs" environmental concerns raised by advocacy groups.

Joining Roberts were Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Justice Stephen Breyer filed an opinion that concurred in part and dissented in part from the majority opinion, in which Justice John Paul Stevens joined. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed a dissent in which Justice David Souter joined.

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