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Bonner-BridgeThe dispute over the Bonner Bridge project is heading back to the district court, after a unanimous panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held today that the lower court had failed to consider certain requirements relating to the protection of wildlife refuge land — here, the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on Hatteras Island, through which the battered NC- 12 runs.

The state had agreed in 2003 to build the the Pamlico Sound Alternative – a 17-mile causeway bridge that would bypass NC-12 in the troubled areas, spanning instead from Bodie Island, out into the Pamlico Sound and connecting back at Rodanthe. Construction was set to begin in 2006, with the new bridge opening in 2010.

But the NCDOT shifted course in 2009 and agreed to build a parallel bridge instead, leaving improvements to NC-12 in the troubled areas to then undefined “later phases.”

The Department has since proposed the construction of two additional bridges in the shifting sands of the Refuge to overcome storm wash-out on NC-12.

In the ruling, written by U.S. Circuit Judge  James A. Wynn Jr., the judges did find though that the state had complied with provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act when evaluating multiple proposals that included the building of the single replacement bridge and the planning of future bridges along NC -12.

A full analysis of the decision will follow.

Read more about the case here.

 

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The U.S. Senate yesterday voted 50-43 to confirm Pamela Harris to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, taking the seat vacated by Judge Andre Davis, who assumed senior status in February.

Harris is a Georgetown Law professor and previously served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Policy at the United States Department of Justice.

Harris moved quickly through the Senate confirmation process after being nominated by the president in May.

Once Harris is sworn in, the court will have its full complement of 15 judges. She will be the fifth woman on the court, and the sixth Obama appointee there — joining four Clinton appointees, three Bush II appointees; one Bush I appointee; and one Reagan appointee.

Here’s a little more about what Harris brings to the court from this article in the New Republic:

Harris’s professional experiences, by contrast, give her a uniqueand exceptionally broadnetwork of professional relationships. She has experience in the corporate law world, as she was a partner at a leading Washington law firm. She has taught at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Harvard Law School, and now Georgetown. She has served in the government in both the Office of Legal Counsel and the Office of Legal Policy in the Justice Department.  Her experience on the Board of Directors at the American Constitution Society for Law and Public Policy (ACS) gives her unique experience in an organization that is both a public interest and a social movement operation.