504 U.S. 555 (1992), 90-1424, Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife

Docket NºNo. 90-1424
Citation504 U.S. 555, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351, 60 U.S.L.W. 4495
Party NameLujan v. Defenders of Wildlife
Case DateJune 12, 1992
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Page 555

504 U.S. 555 (1992)

112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351, 60 U.S.L.W. 4495

Lujan

v.

Defenders of Wildlife

No. 90-1424

United States Supreme Court

June 12, 1992

Argued Dec. 3, 1992

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 divides responsibilities regarding the protection of endangered species between petitioner Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce, and requires each federal agency to consult with the relevant Secretary to ensure that any action funded by the agency is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence or habitat of any endangered or threatened species. Both Secretaries initially promulgated a joint regulation extending § 7(a)(2)'s coverage to actions taken in foreign nations, but a subsequent joint rule limited the section's geographic scope to the United States and the high seas. Respondents, wildlife conservation and other environmental organizations, filed an action in the District Court, seeking a declaratory judgment that the new regulation erred as to § 7(a)(2)'s geographic scope, and an injunction requiring the Secretary of the Interior to promulgate a new rule restoring his initial interpretation. The Court of Appeals reversed the District Court's dismissal of the suit for lack of standing. Upon remand, on cross-motions for summary judgment, the District Court denied the Secretary's motion, which renewed his objection to standing, and granted respondents' motion, ordering the Secretary to publish a new rule. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

[112 S.Ct. 2134] Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded.

911 F.2d 117, (CA 8 1990), reversed and remanded.

JUSTICE SCALIA delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to Part III-B, concluding that respondents lack standing to seek judicial review of the rule. Pp. 559-567, 571-578.

(a) As the parties invoking federal jurisdiction, respondents bear the burden of showing standing by establishing, inter alia, that they have suffered an injury in fact, i.e., a concrete and particularized, actual or imminent invasion of a legally-protected interest. To survive a summary judgment motion, they must set forth by affidavit or other evidence specific facts to support their claim. Standing is particularly difficult to show here, since third parties, rather than respondents, are the object of the Government action or inaction to which respondents object. Pp. 559-562.

Page 556

(b) Respondents did not demonstrate that they suffered an injury in fact. Assuming that they established that funded activities abroad threaten certain species, they failed to show that one or more of their members would thereby be directly affected apart from the members' special interest in the subject. See Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727, 735. Affidavits of members claiming an intent to revisit project sites at some indefinite future time, at which time they will presumably be denied the opportunity to observe endangered animals, do not suffice, for they do not demonstrate an "imminent" injury. Respondents also mistakenly rely on a number of other novel standing theories. Their theory that any person using any part of a contiguous ecosystem adversely affected by a funded activity has standing even if the activity is located far away from the area of their use is inconsistent with this Court's opinion in Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871. And they state purely speculative, nonconcrete injuries when they argue that suit can be brought by anyone with an interest in studying or seeing endangered animals anywhere on the globe and anyone with a professional interest in such animals. Pp. 562-567.

(c) The Court of Appeals erred in holding that respondents had standing on the ground that the statute's citizen-suit provision confers on all persons the right to file suit to challenge the Secretary's failure to follow the proper consultative procedure, notwithstanding their inability to allege any separate concrete injury flowing from that failure. This Court has consistently held that a plaintiff claiming only a generally available grievance about government, unconnected with a threatened concrete interest of his own, does not state an Article III case or controversy. See, e.g., Fairchild v. Hughes, 258 U.S. 126, 129-130. Vindicating the public interest is the function of the Congress and the Chief Executive. To allow that interest to be converted into an individual right by a statute denominating it as such and permitting all citizens to sue, regardless of whether they suffered any concrete injury, would authorize Congress to transfer from the President to the courts the Chief Executive's most important constitutional duty, to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed," Art. II, § 3. Pp. 571-578.

SCALIA, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, III-A, and IV, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and WHITE, KENNEDY, SOUTER, and THOMAS, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Part III-B, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and WHITE and THOMAS, JJ., joined. KENNEDY, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which SOUTER, J., joined, post, p. 579. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post,

Page 557

p. 581. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which O'CONNOR, J., joined, post, p. 589.

SCALIA, J., lead opinion

JUSTICE SCALIA delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, III-A, and IV, and an opinion with respect to Part III-B in which the CHIEF JUSTICE, JUSTICE WHITE, and JUSTICE THOMAS join.

This case involves a challenge to a rule promulgated by the Secretary of the Interior interpreting § 7 of the Endangered

Page 558

Species Act of 1973 (ESA), 87 Stat. 884, 892, as amended, 16 U.S.C. § 1536, in such fashion as to render it applicable only to actions within the United States or on the high seas. The preliminary issue, and the only one we reach, is whether the respondents here, plaintiffs below, have standing to seek judicial review of the rule.

I

The ESA, 87 Stat. 884, as amended, 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq., seeks to protect species of animals against threats to their continuing existence caused by man. See generally TVA v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153 (1978). The ESA instructs the Secretary of the Interior to promulgate by regulation a list of those species which are either endangered or threatened under enumerated criteria, and to define the critical habitat of these species. 16 U.S.C. §§ 1533, 1536. Section 7(a)(2) of the Act then provides, in pertinent part:

Each Federal agency shall, in consultation with and with the assistance of the Secretary [of the Interior], insure that any action authorized, funded, or carried out by such agency . . . is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of habitat of such species which is determined by the Secretary, after consultation as appropriate with affected States, to be critical.

16 U.S.C. § 1536(a)(2).

In 1978, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce, respectively, promulgated a joint regulation stating that the obligations imposed by § 7(a)(2) extend to actions taken in foreign nations. 43 Fed.Reg. 874 (1978). The next year, however, the Interior Department began to reexamine its position. Letter from Leo Kuliz, Solicitor, Department of the Interior, to Assistant Secretary, Fish and Wildlife and Parks, Aug. 8, 1979. A revised joint regulation, reinterpreting

Page 559

§ 7(a)(2) to require consultation only for actions taken in the United States or on the high seas, was proposed in 1983, 48 Fed.Reg. 29990 (1983), and promulgated in 1986, 51 Fed.Reg.19926 (1986); 50 C.F.R. 402.01 (1991).

Shortly thereafter, respondents, organizations dedicated to wildlife conservation and other environmental causes, filed this action against the Secretary of the Interior, seeking a declaratory judgment that the new regulation is in error as to the geographic scope of § 7(a)(2), and an injunction requiring the Secretary to promulgate a new regulation restoring the initial interpretation. The District Court granted the Secretary's motion to dismiss for lack of standing. Defenders of Wildlife v. Hodel, 658 F.Supp. 43, 47-48 (Minn.1987). The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed by a divided vote. Defenders of Wildlife v. Hodel, 851 F.2d 1035 (1988). On remand, the Secretary moved for summary judgment on the standing issue, and respondents moved for summary judgment on the merits. The District Court denied the Secretary's motion, on the ground that the Eighth Circuit had already determined the standing question in this case; it granted respondents' merits motion, and ordered the Secretary to publish a revised regulation. Defenders of Wildlife v. Hodel, 707 F.Supp. 1082 (Minn.1989). The Eighth Circuit affirmed. 911 F.2d 117 (1990). We granted certiorari, 500 U.S. 915 (1991).

II

While the Constitution of the United States divides all power conferred upon [112 S.Ct. 2136] the Federal Government into "legislative Powers," Art. I, § 1, "[t]he executive Power," Art. II, § 1, and "[t]he judicial Power," Art. III, § 1, it does not attempt to define those terms. To be sure, it limits the jurisdiction of federal courts to "Cases" and "Controversies," but an executive inquiry can bear the name "case" (the Hoffa case) and a legislative dispute can bear the name "controversy" (the Smoot-Hawley controversy). Obviously, then, the Constitution's central mechanism of separation of powers depends

Page 560

largely upon common understanding of what activities are appropriate to legislatures, to executives,...

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