Andrus v. Allard, No. 78-740

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBRENNAN
Citation444 U.S. 51,62 L.Ed.2d 210,100 S.Ct. 318
Docket NumberNo. 78-740
Decision Date27 November 1979
PartiesCecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, et al., Appellants, v. L. Douglas ALLARD et al

444 U.S. 51
100 S.Ct. 318
62 L.Ed.2d 210
Cecil D. ANDRUS, Secretary of the Interior, et al., Appellants,

v.

L. Douglas ALLARD et al.

No. 78-740.
Argued Oct. 1, 1979.
Decided Nov. 27, 1979.
Syllabus

The Eagle Protection Act makes it unlawful to "take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import" bald or golden eagles or any part thereof, with the proviso that the prohibition does not apply to "possession or transportation" of such eagles or parts thereof taken prior to the effective date of the Act. Similarly, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it unlawful to engage in such activities with respect to migratory birds and their parts, unless they are permitted by regulations promulgated under the Act. Appellant Secretary of the Interior promulgated regulations prohibiting commercial transactions in parts of birds legally killed before they came under the protection of these Acts. After two of the appellees who had sold "pre-existing" Indian artifacts partly composed of feathers of currently protected birds were prosecuted for violations of both Acts, appellees, who are engaged in the trade of such artifacts, brought suit in District Court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the Acts do not forbid the sale of appellees' artifacts insofar as the constituent bird parts were obtained prior to the effective dates of the Acts, and that if the Acts and regulations do apply to such property, they violate the Fifth Amendment. The District Court granted the relief sought, holding that the Acts were to be interpreted as not applicable to pre-existing, legally obtained bird parts, and that therefore the regulations were void as unauthorized extensions of the Acts and were violative of appellees' Fifth Amendment property rights.

Held:

1. Both Acts contemplate regulatory prohibition of commerce in the parts of protected birds, without regard to when those birds were originally taken. Pp. 322-326.

(a) In view of the exhaustive and careful enumeration of forbidden acts in the Eagle Protection Act, the narrow limitation of the proviso to "possession or transportation" compels the conclusion that, with respect to pre-existing artifacts, Congress specifically, declined to except any activities other thanpossession and transportation from the general ban. The legislative history shows that this precise use of terminology

Page 52

was intentional. Moreover, the prohibition against the sale of bird parts lawfully taken before the effective date of federal protection is fully consonant with the Act's purpose of preventing evasion of the statutory prohibitions for commercial gain. Pp. 322-323.

(b) While the Migratory Bird Treaty Act contains no explicit exception for the possession or transportation of bird parts obtained before the federal protection became effective, nevertheless the text, context, and purpose of that Act support the Secretary's interpretative regulations. There is nothing in the Act that requires an exception for the sale of pre-existing artifacts, and no such statutory exception can be implied. The Act's structure and context also suggest congressional understanding that regulatory authorities could ban the sale of lawfully taken birds, except where otherwise expressly instructed by the Act. Pp. 323-326.

2. The simple prohibition of the sale of lawfully acquired property does not effect a taking in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The challenged regulations do not compel the surrender of the artifacts in question, and there is no physical invasion or restraint upon them. The denial of one traditional property right does not always amount to a taking. Nor is the fact that the regulations prevent the most profitable use of appellees' property dispositive, since a reduction in the value of property is not necessarily equated with a taking. Pp. 326-328.

Harriet S. Shapiro, Washington, D. C., for appellants.

John P. Akolt, III, Denver, Colo., for appellees.

Mr. Justice BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act are conservation statutes designed to prevent the des-

Page 53

truction of certain species of birds.1 Challenged in this case is the validity of regulations promulgated by appellant Secretary of the Interior that prohibit commercial transactions in parts of birds legally killed before the birds came under the

Page 54

protection of the statutes. The regulations provide in pertinent part:

50 CFR § 21.2(a) (1978):

"Migratory birds, their parts, nests, or eggs, lawfully acquired prior to the effective date of Federal protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act . . . may be possessed or transported without a Federal permit, but may not be imported, exported, purchased, sold, bartered, or offered for purchase, sale, trade, or barter. . . ."

50 CFR § 22.2(a) (1978):

"Bald eagles, alive or dead, or their parts, nests, or eggs lawfully acquired prior to June 8, 1940, and golden eagles, alive or dead, or their parts, nests, or eggs lawfully acquired prior to October 24, 1962, may be possessed, or transported without a Federal permit, but may not be imported, exported, purchased, sold, traded, bartered, or offered for purchase, sale, trade or barter. . . ."

Appellees are engaged in the trade of Indian artifacts: several own commercial enterprises, one is employed by such an enterprise, and one is a professional appraiser. A number of the artifacts are partly composed of the feathers of currently protected birds, but these artifacts existed before the statutory protections came into force. After two of the appellees who had sold "pre-existing" artifacts were prosecuted for violations of the Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act,2 appellees brought this suit for declaratory and injunctive relief in the District Court for the District of Colorado. The complaint alleged that the statutes do not

Page 55

forbid the sale of appellees' artifacts insofar as the constituent birds' parts were obtained prior to the effective dates of the statutes. It further alleged that if the statutes and regulations do apply to such property, they violate the Fifth Amendment.3

A three-judge court, convened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2282 (1970 ed.),4 held that because of "grave doubts whether these two acts would be constitutional if they were construed to apply to pre-act bird products," the Acts were to be interpreted as "not applicable to preexisting, legally-obtained bird parts or products therefrom. . . ." App. to Juris. Statement 13a-14a. Accordingly, the court ruled that "the interpretive regulations, 50 C.F.R. §§ 21.2(a) and 22.2(a) [are] void as unauthorized extensions of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Eagle Protection Act and [are] violative of the [appellees'] Fifth Amendment property rights." Id., at 14a. Judgment was entered declaring "the subject regulations to be invalid and unenforceable as against the [appellees'] property rights in feathers and artifacts owned before the effective date of the subject statute," and enjoining appellants "from any interference with the exercise of such rights, including the rights of sale, barter or exchange." Id., at 16a-17a. We noted probable jurisdiction. 440 U.S. 905, 99 S.Ct. 1210, 59 L.Ed.2d 452 (1979). We reverse.

I

Appellant Secretary of the Interior contends that both the Eagle Protection and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts contem-

Page 56

plate regulatory prohibition of commerce in the parts of protected birds, without regard to when those birds were originally taken. Appellees respond that such a prohibition serves no purpose, arguing that statutory protection of wildlife is not furthered by am embargo upon traffic in avian artifacts that existed before the statutory safeguards came into effect.

A.

Our point of departure in statutory analysis is the language of the enactment. See Southeastern Community College v. Davis, 442 U.S. 397, 405, 99 S.Ct. 2361, 2366, 60 L.Ed.2d 980 (1979). "Though we may not end with the words in construing a disputed statute, one certainly begins there." F. Frankfurter, Some Reflections on the Reading of Statutes 16 (1947).

The terms of the Eagle Protection Act plainly must be read as appellant Secretary argues. The sweepingly framed prohibition in § 668(a) makes it unlawful to "take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import" protected birds. Congress expressly dealt with the problem of pre-existing bird products by qualifying that general prohibition with the proviso that "nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit possession or transportation " of bald or golden eagle parts taken prior to the effective date of coverage under the Act. (Emphasis supplied.)

In view of the exhaustive and careful enumeration of forbidden acts in § 668(a), the narrow limitation of the proviso to "possession or transportation" compels the conclusion that, with respect to pre-existing artifacts, Congress specifically declined to except any activities other than possession and transportation from the general statutory ban. To read a further exemption for pre-existing artifacts into the Eagle Protection Act, "we would be forced to ignore the ordinary meaning of plain language." TVA v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153, 173, 98 S.Ct. 2279, 2291, 57 L.Ed.2d 117 (1978). Nor can there be any question of oversight or drafting error. Throughout the statute the distinct concepts of

Page 57

possession, transportation, taking, and sale or purchase are treated with precision. The broad proscriptive provisions of the Eagle Protection Act were consistently framed to encompass a full catalog of prohibited acts, always including sale or purchase. See §§ 668(a), 668(b), 668b(b). In contrast, the exemptions created were specifically limited to possession or transportation, § 668(a),5 taking, § 668a,6 or taking, possession, or transportation, ib...

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