WASHINGTON – Buffeted by a spate of lawsuits seeking to save endangered military bases, the Bush administration asked the Supreme Court (search) Thursday to intervene and protect a federal panel's closing and realignment recommendations.
As the panel was preparing to submit its report to President Bush, courts around the country were dealing with lawsuits designed to prevent that.
Solicitor General Paul Clement, the administration's Supreme Court attorney, told justices that a Connecticut judge was out of line Wednesday in barring the commission from recommending changes at an Air National Guard base in that state.
"Placing the commission and the president in this position is fundamentally antithetical to the proper operation" of the commission, Clement said in asking the court to step in.
Separately, justices received other requests to stop the commission from sending its report to Bush.
Sen. Jon Corzine (search), D-N.J., filed one request for an emergency stay with Justice David H. Souter (search), who could handle the matter himself or request a vote of the eight remaining justices.
In court papers, lawyers representing Corzine and other New Jersey state and congressional officials said they wanted a temporary reprieve so that they could file a full appeal of the decision by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission to close Fort Monmouth (search).
Also on Thursday, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon asked the high court for an injunction. On Wednesday, a federal judge in St. Louis had thrown out a Missouri lawsuit, saying she had no authority to hear the case because the Base Realignment and Closure Commission decision was still preliminary. The case involves the closure of an Air National Guard unit in St. Louis.
In the New Jersey case, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected the politicians' efforts to stop the panel from closing the Army research and development post.
In other base closings lawsuits around the country, a Massachusetts judge on Thursday rejected the state's efforts to keep the Otis Air National Guard Base open.
The list was expected to be presented Thursday to Bush, who has pledged to give it to Congress without making any changes. Congress then can vote the entire list up or down, but may not modify it.
Fort Monmouth was one of more than 800 military installations that the base-closing panel recommended closing or consolidating.
Massachusetts was one several states to challenge BRAC's (search) findings on the grounds that changes to their National Guard units or bases must be approved by governors. The others have had mixed results.
On Wednesday, judges stopped the panel from recommending changes at Air National Guard bases in Tennessee and the one in Connecticut. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich filed a court appeal to block a plan to move fighter jets out of his state. Washington state also has filed a lawsuit.
The federal government contends the commission's recommendations are not reviewable by the courts.