Conn. Judge Blocks Bradley Base Realignment

A federal judge on Wednesday granted the state's request to block the federal base commission's recommendation to realign the Bradley Air National Guard Base (search).

U.S. District Judge Alfred V. Covello granted a temporary injunction to prevent the commission from including the Bradley realignment in its recommendation to President Bush.

"The court is of the opinion that the governor of Connecticut would suffer significant hardshipect to judicial review," Covello wrote in his decision.

Connecticut officials had argued that the Pentagon cannot realign the Bradley base without the consent of Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who by statute is commander in chief of the state's National Guard (search). The federal government argued that the commission's recommendation were not reviewable by the courts.

"To be sure, in this case there has been a past harm to the governor's right to disapprove of changes to the organization and allotment of the 103rd fighter wing," Covello wrote.

Rell said she was pleased with the ruling. "I thought the law was very clear," she said. "Our authority has been recognized."

Matthew Lepore, an attorney who argued for the federal government, said he didn't immediately know if there would be an appeal. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York was standing by to take up the case.

Connecticut filed its lawsuit last month after the BRAC (search) commission approved the Pentagon's plan to remove planes from the base at Bradley International Airport. The commission is scheduled to forward its recommendations to President Bush by Thursday.

There are 15 A-10 Thunderbolts currently assigned to Bradley. Connecticut officials said that the 384 National Guard troops stationed there would not have a mission if the planes were moved out of state.

Brig. Gen. Thaddeus J. Martin, commander of the Connecticut National Guard, said Connecticut would be at a security risk if the federal government removes aircraft from the base.

"If a Katrina hit Connecticut, it's likely it would hit Rhode Island and parts of New York," Martin said. "There would be a reluctance to first have equipment sent to us without first taking care of other states."

Martin testified that he was not frequently consulted about the realignment and did not approve the Pentagon's plans.

"We will become, if the current recommendation stands, the only state in the country that has absolutely no Air Force flying mission assigned to it," he said.

Lepore had argued that recommendations by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission cannot be overruled by the courts.

"They're not reviewable last week, they're not reviewable today, they're not reviewable on Friday," Lepore told Covello.

Martin testified Wednesday that he's been told the 15 A-10 Thunderbolts currently assigned to Bradley would be assigned to the Air Force (search) pool under the commission's recommendation.

The Connecticut lawsuit was one of several legal challenges filed by states against the BRAC recommendation.

A federal judge last week sided with Pennsylvania's governor in saying that the military needs the governor's permission there to dissolve an Air Guard division there.

But that runs counter to court decisions in Illinois and New Jersey that said that the courts do not have jurisdiction over the base closing commission process.