Ninth Circuit Declares Eco-Terrorists to be Pirates

 

Yes, good things sometimes come from the Ninth Circuit, especially when Judge Alex Kozinski is presiding.  This decision involves a eco-terrorist group known as Sea Shepherd, founded by Canadian Paul Watson, who split from Greenpeace because he didn’t think the Rainbow Warrior crowd was sufficiently aggressive. 

After years of constant, violent harassment by Watson and his cronies, Japanese Whalers took Sea Shepherd to federal court in the US under the Alien Tort Statute, which provides a remedy for breaches of international law, including (at least arguably) laws against piracy.  Watson of course insists that the Japanese guys are the pirates, but Judge Kozinski disagrees. Here’s the opening of his opinion:

You don’t need a peg leg or an eye patch. When you ram ships; hurl glass containers of acid; drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders; launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks; and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate, no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be.

What’s a liberal to do?  This is exactly how the Legal Left wants the Courts to function.  Universal jurisdiction!  Enforcing international law!  Law of the Seas!  Except, gosh darn it, the  good guys are supposed to win, not the nasty whalers (who, by the way, hunt whales only by virtue of permits defined by international law).  

There are 33 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Member
    @WyleeCoyote

    Do we get to snipe them now?

    • #1
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    @ChrisCampion

    Really wouldn’t need to arm the Japanese vessels (tempted to say “wessels” here.  Obviously).  Just unleash the power of, um, MegaNauts?

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Contributor
    @AdamFreedman
    Keith Bruzelius

    Barbara Kidder: Please will you explain how a Canadian group and a Japanese whaling entity having standing in the U.S. Ninth Circuit,  and how that court has jurisdiction over the matter?

    Thank you. · 11 minutes ago

    INSTITUTE OF CETACEAN RESEARCH, a Japanese research foundation; KYODO SENPAKU KAISHA, LTD., a Japanese corporation; TOMOYUKI OGAWA, an individual; TOSHIYUKI MIURA, an individual,

    Plaintiffs – Appellants,

    v.

    SEA SHEPHERD CONSERVATION SOCIETY, an Oregon nonprofit corporation; PAUL WATSON, an individual,

    Defendants – Appellees.  · 9 hours ago

    Thanks!  But I should point out that many (probably a majority) of legal academics believe that US Courts have jurisdiction to hear Alien Tort cases where neither party is American and where the alleged tort did not occur on US soil.   SCOTUS is currently considering just such a case: Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Shell, in which 12 Nigerian plaintiffs are suing a Dutch corporation for allegedly conspiring with the Nigerian government to commit crimes — in Nigeria. 

    • #3
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    @ManWiththeAxe
    Barbara Kidder: Please will you explain how a Canadian group and a Japanese whaling entity having standing in the U.S. Ninth Circuit,  and how that court has jurisdiction over the matter?

    Thank you.

    Quote from the lower court decision:  “…Sea Shepherd in the United States is an Oregon not-for-profit corporation with headquarters in Friday Harbor, Washington…Neither Mr. Watson nor Sea Shepherd contest that this court has personal jurisdiction over them.”

    • #4
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    @DougKimball

    Libs have their wars – on those they feel do not appropriately support environmental causes, intolerence, redistribution, internationalism, feminism, statism, atheisism and agnosticism.  Crimes committed in support of these causes must at least be partially forgiven and may not be crimes at all.  Whereas crimes committed in opposition of these causes must be viewed as threats to the advancement of humanity itself.   This sudden clarity, from the 9th circuit no less, represents an outright attack on the liberal worldview.

    You go, Ninth Circuit!

      

    • #5
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    @BarbaraKidder

    Please will you explain how a Canadian group and a Japanese whaling entity having standing in the U.S. Ninth Circuit,  and how that court has jurisdiction over the matter?

    Thank you.

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Member
    @RyanM
    Barbara Kidder: Please will you explain how a Canadian group and a Japanese whaling entity having standing in the U.S. Ninth Circuit,  and how that court has jurisdiction over the matter?

    Thank you. · 6 minutes ago

    I don’t know the answer to this, but I suspect that when Adam referred to the founder as a Canadian, he was referring only to Watson.  Sea Shepard may very well be based out of the United States.  Subject to 9th circuit jurisdiction – dare I suggest San Francisco as a potential home?

    • #7
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    @LowcountryJoe

    I’m glad you found this and posted it; I wouldn’t have seen this any other place I check or watch.

    • #8
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    @JohnMurdoch

    Just doing a quick bit of Googling, it would appear that Sea Shepherd has a legal presence in Friday Harbor, WA (just a few miles from Victoria, BC, but still within the U.S.).

    And makes rather a point of emphasizing the pirate theme (the skull and crossbones is their logo), and bragging on their web site about their ramming, disabling, and scuttling whaling ships.

    Sea Shepherd Society Whaling web page

    That the Japanese have only hauled these guys into civil court is an act of remarkable graciousness: current maritime practice in the Gulf of Aden is to shoot any vessel that approaches in any kind of threatening manner. Given the gleefully yo-ho-ho-and-a-bottle-of-all-natural-rum-made-from-free-range-sugar-cane attitude of the Sea Shepherd folks, I’d think they absolutely qualify as pirates.

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Pilli

    Haaaaaarrrrr matey!  Ready about!  Hard alee!  We’re coming abeam the 9th Circuit for a full broadside!

    • #10
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    @Keith
    Barbara Kidder: Please will you explain how a Canadian group and a Japanese whaling entity having standing in the U.S. Ninth Circuit,  and how that court has jurisdiction over the matter?

    Thank you. · 11 minutes ago

    INSTITUTE OF CETACEAN RESEARCH, a Japanese research foundation; KYODO SENPAKU KAISHA, LTD., a Japanese corporation; TOMOYUKI OGAWA, an individual; TOSHIYUKI MIURA, an individual,

    Plaintiffs – Appellants,

    v.

    SEA SHEPHERD CONSERVATION SOCIETY, an Oregon nonprofit corporation; PAUL WATSON, an individual,

    Defendants – Appellees. 

    • #11
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    @Keith

    Since they’ve been found to be pirates, will they get sunk?

    That is the question.

    • #12
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    @BarbaraKidder

    Thank you, gentlemen, for answering my questions.

    • #13
  14. Profile Photo Contributor
    @Seawriter

     

    Keith Bruzelius: Since they’ve been found to be pirates, will they get sunk?

    That is the question. · 11 hours ago

    Did Japan sign onto the Paris Declaration Respecting Maritime Law?  If they are not party to that agreement, then the Japanese government could issue letters of marque and reprisal to Japanese whalers allowing them to seize pirate ships.  And, since the Sea Shepherd and its ilk have been declared pirates, this would allow whalers so privileged to take the eco-pirate ships as prizes, have them condemned in an Admiralty court, and legally take possession of the ships.

    Works for me.

    Mark Lardas

    • #14
  15. Profile Photo Inactive
    @JohnMurdoch
    Keith Bruzelius: Since they’ve been found to be pirates, will they get sunk?

    That is the question.

    I realize you’re jesting, but it’s a serious question. The current Law of the Sea Treaty doesn’t really have a solution for dealing with pirates–the treaty just sort of pretends they don’t exist.

    And since the replacement Law of the Sea Treaty was dreamt up by U.N. bureaucrats with all sorts of lunatic provisions for apportioning seabed mineral–and petroleum–rights to Third World countries, and giving a U.N. tribunal superior jurisdiction over national courts (such as the U.S. courts) that treaty isn’t getting changed any time soon.

    So when a Somali or Malay pirate gets captured, the captors don’t really have any good options. They’re supposed to take the pirate into the nearest port to be tried by that nation’s courts–but Somalia doesn’t have any functioning courts. Most pirates in East Africa are landed in the Seychelles, but the Seychelles can’t afford to prosecute (let alone imprison) them all.

    That’s why there’s a wink-and-a-nod at private mercenaries just killing them.

    • #15
  16. Profile Photo Member
    @RyanM
    John Murdoch: Just doing a quick bit of Googling, it would appear that Sea Shepherd has a legal presence in Friday Harbor, WA (just a few miles from Victoria, BC, but still within the U.S.).

    And makes rather a point of emphasizing the pirate theme (the skull and crossbones is their logo), and bragging on their web site about their ramming, disabling, and scuttling whaling ships.

    Sea Shepherd Society Whaling web page

    That the Japanese have only hauled these guys into civil court is an act of remarkable graciousness: current maritime practice in the Gulf of Aden is to shoot any vessel that approaches in any kind of threatening manner. Given the gleefully yo-ho-ho-and-a-bottle-of-all-natural-rum-made-from-free-range-sugar-cane attitude of the Sea Shepherd folks, I’d think they absolutely qualify as pirates.

    I was going to say – judging from that website, I think the whale boats are perfectly justified in sending a torpedo or two at those idiots and leaving them to sink.

    • #16
  17. Profile Photo Member
    @JosephEagar

    I did not know the Japanese engaged in commercial whaling.  From googling it, it sounds like they aren’t overfishing, which is good.

    • #17
  18. Profile Photo Member
    @AdamKoslin
    Keith Bruzelius: Since they’ve been found to be pirates, will they get sunk?

    That is the question. · 28 minutes ago

    Keelhauled, then sentenced to fifteen years service before the mast in the malarial depths of the West Indies.

    Forgive the irreverence. :)

    • #18
  19. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @EJHill

    Trade them to Pittsburgh. Their Pirates haven’t won anything for 20 years, either. (Sorry, Casey!)

    • #19
  20. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Kervinlee

    Were I a Japanese Whaler I would mount a  large deck gun on every ship of my fleet and if approached by any of Sea Shepard’s fleet, I would fire on it with the intent to sink it at the first provocation. 

    One such act of self-defense of this type might be sufficient to end further assaults.

    • #20
  21. Profile Photo Inactive
    @CrowsNest

    Sea Shepherd and its shenanigans have long been on my radar, and I have argued that regardless of whatever ideology might motivate them, their behavior violates the law of the sea; that they were pirates attacking merchant vessels.

    I’m glad to see (stopped clocks and all) that the 9th circuit ruled as it did. 

    • #21
  22. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BarbaraKidder
    Pilli: Haaaaaarrrrr matey!  Ready about!  Hard alee!  We’re coming abeam the 9th Circuit for a full broadside! · 4 hours ago

    This is surprisingly ‘salty’ language for someone who hails from a land-locked state!

    • #22
  23. Profile Photo Inactive
    @SimonTemplar
    John Murdoch

    I realize you’re jesting, but it’s a serious question. The current Law of the Sea Treaty doesn’t really have a solution for dealing with pirates–the treaty just sort of pretends they don’t exist.

    And since the replacement Law of the Sea Treaty was dreamt up by U.N. bureaucrats with all sorts of lunatic provisions for apportioning seabed mineral–and petroleum–rights to Third World countries, and giving a U.N. tribunal superior jurisdiction over national courts (such as the U.S. courts) that treaty isn’t getting changed any time soon.

    So when a Somali or Malay pirate gets captured, the captors don’t really have any good options. They’re supposed to take the pirate into the nearest port to be tried by that nation’s courts–but Somalia doesn’t have any functioning courts. Most pirates in East Africa are landed in the Seychelles, but the Seychelles can’t afford to prosecute (let alone imprison) them all.

    That’s why there’s a wink-and-a-nod at private mercenaries just killing them. · 

    Do you happen to have the name and phone number of the POC/organization(s) hiring mercs?

    • #23
  24. Profile Photo Member
    @WyleeCoyote
    Simon Templar

    John Murdoch

    That’s why there’s a wink-and-a-nod at private mercenaries just killing them. · 

    Do you happen to have the name and phone number of the POC/organization(s) hiring mercs? · 8 minutes ago

    There’s actually a number of them from what I understand.  The Security Association for the Maritime Industry or the company Maritime Security Protection Services might be a good place to start.

    • #24
  25. Profile Photo Inactive
    @SimonTemplar
    Wylee Coyote

    Simon Templar

    John Murdoch

    That’s why there’s a wink-and-a-nod at private mercenaries just killing them. · 

    Do you happen to have the name and phone number of the POC/organization(s) hiring mercs? · 8 minutes ago

    There’s actually a number of them from what I understand.  The Security Association for the Maritime Industry or the company Maritime Security Protection Services might be a good place to start. · 0 minutes ago

    Thank you.

    • #25
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    @RobertELee

    I’m not a fan of whaling.  I believe the average whale is much more intelligent, more decent a creature than, say, your average congressman.  That said, if the animal freakies want to play rough, they should expect high explosives in return.  Hey, those whalers have a harpoon cannon, let ’em poke holes in anything that gets too close.

    • #26
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    @SeverelyLtd
    Robert E. Lee: I’m not a fan of whaling.  I believe the average whale is much more intelligent, more decent a creature than, say, your average congressman.  That said, if the animal freakies want to play rough, they should expect high explosives in return.  Hey, those whalers have a harpoon cannon, let ’em poke holes in anything that gets too close.

    My sentiments mirror these two views exactly. I’ve been in the water with them a number of times and every time it was severe goose bumps and a buzz that would last for days. They are really magnificent and I’d rather there were more than fewer. But I don’t pretend they are creatures with souls that are off limits for our use either. Paul Watson is a buffoon.

    • #27
  28. Profile Photo Inactive
    @JohnMurdoch
    Adam Freedman

    …I should point out that many (probably a majority) of legal academics believe that US Courts have jurisdiction to hear Alien Tort cases where neitherparty is American and where the alleged tort did notoccur on US soil.

    I can see an Admiralty Law case brought in the U.S. because it’s home to one of the parties; I could also see a tort case for the same reason. A tort case involving two foreign parties because one of those companies has a subsidiary in the U.S. is a really, really dangerous idea.

    There are countries that assert a right to prosecute foreigners for acts committed elsewhere under the guise of “universal jurisdiction.” IIRC, an Italian court tried a number of unnamed CIA personnel in absentia, sentencing them to prison terms for crimes alleged to have been committed outside Italy. (The CIA declined to identify anybody, and basically ignored the court.) Similarly, I recall that a judge in Belgium (?) issued warrants for the arrest of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

    Extra-territorial jurisdiction is an insanely bad idea.

    • #28
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    @JohnMurdoch
    Mark and Janet Lardas:  

    Did Japan sign onto the Paris Declaration Respecting Maritime Law?  If they are not party to that agreement, then the Japanese government could issue letters of marque and reprisal to Japanese whalers allowing them to seize pirate ships. 

    According to Wikipedia, the Japanese have not signed the declaration. This is not surprising, since Japan was closed to western nations, with no international interaction, until well afterward in the 19th century.

    My sense of Japanese domestic politics is that the government would rather perform some horrendous act of self-mutilation rather than open fire on a vessel on the high seas. The political ramifications in East Asia would be extremely damaging–far more than the nuisance of the Sea Shepherd clowns.

    • #29
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    @CorneliusJuliusSebastian

    Good deal,  now let’s get ELF the same way.  Astounding that this came out of the 9th Circuit but hey, we’ll take it any way we can get it.

    • #30

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