TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – A group of politicians, unions, contractors and soldiers filed a lawsuit Friday seeking to overturn a federal panel’s decision to close Fort Monmouth, making New Jersey at least the fifth state where suits have been filed over the federal base closings plan.

“We’re doing this for the men and women overseas whose lives depend on the work at Fort Monmouth,” Rep. Rush Holt said of the lawsuit asking that Fort Monmouth be taken off the list of bases slated for closure.

“If they’re fighting for us, we think we shouldn’t give up on them,” Holt said.

A hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, two days before the deadline for the Base Realignment and Closure Commission to present a list to President Bush. Bush and Congress have veto power over the final plan.

The commission voted last month to close Fort Monmouth and send thousands of jobs to the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. The panel said, however, that shuttering the base could not interfere with the ongoing war on terror. Holt said that condition was one of several moves targeted by the lawsuit.

Commission spokesman Robert McCreary believed the panel’s members had not seen the lawsuit yet. However, he said, “We’re following the court proceedings and will act accordingly.”

Lawsuits over the commission’s closure recommendations also have been filed in Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

On Friday, a federal judge said he would rule promptly on Tennessee’s request for a temporary injunction that would halt the Pentagon’s recommendation to relocate the Tennessee Air National Guard’s 118th Air Lift Wing.

Another federal judge, in Connecticut, this week temporarily halted the national base closings commission from recommending a realignment of a Connecticut Air National Guard base, which the governor contends cannot be done without her approval.

Illinois filed a similar lawsuit in an attempt to prevent an F-16 fighter squadron in Springfield from being moved to Indiana. A federal judge recently ruled in favor of Pennsylvania’s governor after that state argued the Defense Department needs the governor’s approval to dissolve an Air National Guard division there.


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