The courts are supposed to clarify disputes and act judiciously when jobs and other real-world impacts are possible from a judge's ruling.

U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick's injunction against construction on the Bayou Bridge pipeline may or may not be justified, or upheld by a higher court.

What cannot be justified is a Friday afternoon injunction that is issued without explanation, with the judge announcing that her reasoning will be forthcoming later.

Given that the 163-mile pipeline is a major construction project employing thousands, such a cavalier attitude to the dispute led to disarray on the ground. The parties to the case, the pipeline company and several environmental groups, disagreed about what she had in fact enjoined by the wait-and-see order.

The company on Monday said it interpreted the order to mean that only work within the Atchafalaya Basin is blocked; crawfishermen from the basin were among the plaintiffs. Most of the pipeline route is outside the basin.

On Tuesday, the judge explained the order, saying that she only meant the small portion of the pipeline in the basin proper. Nor did she stay the order while the company seeks an appeal. We don't believe this predictable confusion meets a reasonableness test from the court.

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