Judge Rejects Move to Block U.S. Anti-Satellite Weapon Test
A request by four Democratic congressmen and the Union of Concerned Scientists to block today’s scheduled test of a U.S. anti-satellite weapon against a target in space was denied Thursday by a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson, accepting the government’s argument, said the case presents a political question “that should not be decided in this forum.”
She gave her opinion from the bench after hearing 30 minutes of oral arguments on the issue and said she will issue a written opinion later.
She said the House members and the scientists failed to show what was needed for the court to issue a temporary restraining order: a likelihood of success on the case’s merits and that they would suffer irreparable harm if the test took place.
She also said they did not have standing to bring the action against the executive branch, another argument made by the government.
The suit was filed Tuesday by the scientists and the four Democrats, California Rep. George Brown (Colton) and Reps. Matthew McHugh (N.Y.), Joseph Moakley (Mass.) and John Seiberling (Ohio).
They argued that Congress, when it enacted a law authorizing Pentagon spending, limited tests of anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons and said no final-stage tests could be conducted unless President Reagan certified that the United States was making “good faith” efforts to negotiate an ASAT ban.
Although Reagan made such a certification to Congress Aug. 20, the suit contended that his statement “is contrary to fact and reality, not in accord with the statutory requirement, and hence invalid.”