Bennett v. Spear, 95813

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSCALIA
Citation520 U.S. 154,117 S.Ct. 1154,137 L.Ed.2d 281
Decision Date19 March 1997
Docket Number95813
PartiesBrad BENNETT, et al., Petitioners, v. Michael SPEAR et al

520 U.S. 154
117 S.Ct. 1154
137 L.Ed.2d 281

Brad BENNETT, et al., Petitioners,

v.

Michael SPEAR et al.

No. 95-813.
Supreme Court of the United States
Argued Nov. 13, 1996.
Decided March 19, 1997.
Syllabus *

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) requires the Secretary of the Interior to specify animal species that are "threatened'' or "endangered'' and designate their "critical habitat,'' 16 U.S.C. §1533, and requires federal agencies to ensure that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is not likely to jeopardize a listed species or adversely modify its critical habitat, §1536(a)(2). If an agency determines that a proposed action may adversely affect such a species, it must formally consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service, which must provide it with a written statement (the Biological Opinion) explaining how the proposed action will affect the species or its habitat. §1536(b)(3)(A). If the Service concludes that such action will result in jeopardy or adverse habitat modification, §1536(a)(2), the Biological Opinion must outline any "reasonable and prudent alternatives'' that the Service believes will avoid that consequence, §1536(b)(3)(A). If the Biological Opinion concludes that no jeopardy or adverse habitat modification will result, or if it offers reasonable and prudent alternatives, the Service must issue a written statement (known as the "Incidental Take Statement'') specifying the terms and conditions under which an agency may take the species. §1536(b)(4). After the Bureau of Reclamation notified the Service that the operation of the Klamath Irrigation Project might affect two endangered species of fish, the Service issued a Biological Opinion, concluding that the proposed long-term operation of the project was likely to jeopardize the species and identifying as a reasonable and prudent alternative the maintenance of minimum water levels on certain reservoirs. The Bureau notified the Service that it would operate the project in compliance with the Biological Opinion. Petitioners, irrigation districts receiving project water and operators of ranches in those districts, filed this action against respondents, the Service's director and regional directors and the Secretary, claiming that the jeopardy determination and imposition of minimum water levels violated §1536, and constituted an implicit critical habitat determination for the species in violation of §1533(b)(2)'s requirement that the designation's economic impact be considered. They also claimed that the actions violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which prohibits agency actions that are arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law. 5 U.S.C. §706(2)(A). The District Court dismissed the complaint, concluding that petitioners lacked standing because they asserted "recreational, aesthetic, and commercial interests'' that did not fall within the zone of interests sought to be protected by the ESA. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the "zone of interests'' test-which requires that a plaintiff's grievance arguably fall within the zone of interests protected or regulated by the statutory provision or constitutional guarantee invoked in the suit-limits the class of persons who may obtain judicial review not only under the APA, but also under the ESA's citizen-suit provision, 16 U.S.C. §1540(g); and that only plaintiffs alleging an interest in the preservation of endangered species fall within the zone of interests protected by the ESA.

Held: Petitioners have standing to seek judicial review of the Biological Opinion. Pp. ____-____.

(a) The Court of Appeals erred in concluding that petitioners lacked standing under the zone-of-interests test to bring their claims under the ESA's citizen-suit provision. The test is a prudential standing requirement of general application, see, e.g., Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 751, 104 S.Ct. 3315, 3324, 82 L.Ed.2d 556, that applies unless expressly negated by Congress. By providing that "any person may commence a civil suit,'' §1540(g)(1) negates the test. The quoted phrase is an authorization of remarkable breadth when compared with the language Congress ordinarily uses. The Court's readiness to take the term "any person'' at face value is greatly augmented by the interrelated considerations that the legislation's overall subject matter is the environment and that §1540(g)'s obvious purpose is to encourage enforcement by so-called "private attorneys general.'' See Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 409 U.S. 205, 210-211, 93 S.Ct. 364, 367-368, 34 L.Ed.2d 415. The "any person'' formulation applies to all §1540(g) causes of action, including actions against the Secretary asserting overenforcement of §1533; there is no textual basis for saying that the formulation's expansion of standing requirements applies to environmentalists alone. Pp. ____-____.

(b) Three alternative grounds advanced by the Government- (1) that petitioners fail to meet Article III standing requirements; (2) that §1540(g) does not authorize judicial review of the types of claims petitioners advanced; and (3) that judicial review is unavailable under the APA-do not support affirmance. Petitioners' complaint alleges an injury in fact that is fairly traceable to the Biological Opinion and redressable by a favorable judicial ruling and, thus, meets Article III standing requirements at this stage of the litigation. Their §1533 claim is clearly reviewable under §1540(g)(1)(C), which authorizes suit against the Secretary for an alleged failure to perform any nondiscretionary act or duty under §1533. Their §1536 claims are obviously not reviewable under subsection (C), however. Nor are they reviewable under subsection (A), which authorizes injunctive actions against any person "who is alleged to be in violation'' of the ESA or its regulations. Viewed in the context of the entire statute, subsection (A)'s reference to any ESA "violation'' cannot be interpreted to include the Secretary's maladministration of the Act. The §1536 claims are nonetheless reviewable under the APA. The ESA does not preclude such review, and the claim that petitioners will suffer economic harm because of an erroneous jeopardy determination is plainly within the zone of interests protected by §1536, the statutory provision whose violation forms the basis for the complaint, see Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 110 S.Ct. 3177, 111 L.Ed.2d 695. In addition, the Biological Opinion constitutes final agency action for APA purposes. It marks the consummation of the agency's decisionmaking process, Chicago & Southern Air Lines, Inc. v. Waterman S.S. Corp., 333 U.S. 103, 113, 68 S.Ct. 431, 437, 92 L.Ed. 568. It is also an action from which "legal consequences will flow,'' Port of Boston Marine Terminal Assn. v. Rederiaktiebolaget Transatlantic, 400 U.S. 62, 71, 91 S.Ct. 203, 209, 27 L.Ed.2d 203, because the Biological Opinion and accompanying Incidental Take Statement alter the legal regime to which the Bureau is subject, authorizing it to take the endangered species if (but only if) it complies with the prescribed conditions. Franklin v. Massachusetts, 505 U.S. 788, 112 S.Ct. 2767, 120 L.Ed.2d 636, and Dalton v. Specter, 511 U.S. 462, 114 S.Ct. 1719, 128 L.Ed.2d 497, distinguished. Pp. ____-____.

63 F.3d 915, reversed and remanded.

SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Gregory K. Wilkinson, Riverside, CA, for petitioners.

Edwin S. Kneedler, Washington, DC, for respondents.

Justice SCALIA delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a challenge to a biological opinion issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service in accordance with the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), 87 Stat. 884, as amended, 16 U.S.C. §1531 et seq., concerning the operation of the Klamath Irrigation Project by the Bureau of Reclamation, and the project's impact on two varieties of endangered fish. The question for decision is whether the petitioners, who have competing economic and other interests in Klamath Project water, have standing to seek judicial review of the biological opinion under the citizen-suit provision of the ESA, §1540(g)(1), and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 80 Stat. 392, as amended, 5 U.S.C. §701 et seq.

I

The ESA requires the Secretary of the Interior to promulgate regulations listing those species of animals that are "threatened'' or "endangered'' under specified criteria, and to designate their "critical habitat.'' 16 U.S.C. §1533. The ESA further requires each federal agency to "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 . . . to be critical.'' §1536(a)(2). If an agency determines that action it proposes to take may adversely affect a listed species, it must engage in formal consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service, as delegate of the Secretary, ibid.; 50 CFR §402.14 (1995), after which the Service must provide the agency with a written statement (the Biological Opinion) explaining how the proposed action will affect the species or its habitat, 16 U.S.C. §1536(b)(3)(A). If the Service concludes that the proposed action will "jeopardize the continued existence of any [listed] species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of [critical habitat],'' §1536(a)(2), the Biological Opinion must outline any "reasonable and prudent alternatives'' that the Service believes will avoid that consequence, §1536(b)(3)(A). Additionally, if the Biological Opinion concludes that the agency action will not result in jeopardy or adverse habitat modification, or if it offers reasonable and prudent alternatives to avoid that consequence, the Service must provide the agency with a written...

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3428 practice notes
  • Part II
    • United States
    • Federal Register July 12, 2006
    • July 12, 2006
    ...1540(g). Biological opinions may also be challenged in Federal court under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). See Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154, 178 Alternative 1, the continuation of existing regulations, was not selected because it would continue the requirement that BLM issue a bio......
  • Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash. v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec., Civil Action No. 18-2473 (RC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • November 30, 2020
    ...does not mean that DHS's upstream failure to promulgate FRA-compliant recordkeeping policies cannot do so as well. See Bennett v. Spear , 520 U.S. 154, 168–69, 117 S.Ct. 1154, 137 L.Ed.2d 281 (1997) (explaining that causation attributable to "the very last step in the chain of causation" do......
  • Carson v. Makin, No. 19-1746
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • October 29, 2020
    ...interest in securing tuition funding provides a satisfactory predicate for standing." Id. And, in doing so, we relied on Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154, 117 S.Ct. 1154, 137 L.Ed.2d 281 (1997), which we read to establish that the "harm ‘produced by determinative or coercive effect’ upon a th......
  • Texas v. Biden, 21-10806
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • December 13, 2021
    ..."rights or obligations [or produce] legal consequences." Texas v. EEOC, 933 F.3d 433, 441 (5th Cir. 2019) (quoting Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154, 177-78 (1997)). Our circuit considers this "a jurisdictional prerequisite of judicial review." Louisiana v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng'rs, 834 F.3d ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3429 cases
  • Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash. v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec., Civil Action No. 18-2473 (RC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • November 30, 2020
    ...does not mean that DHS's upstream failure to promulgate FRA-compliant recordkeeping policies cannot do so as well. See Bennett v. Spear , 520 U.S. 154, 168–69, 117 S.Ct. 1154, 137 L.Ed.2d 281 (1997) (explaining that causation attributable to "the very last step in the chain of causation" do......
  • Carson v. Makin, No. 19-1746
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • October 29, 2020
    ...interest in securing tuition funding provides a satisfactory predicate for standing." Id. And, in doing so, we relied on Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154, 117 S.Ct. 1154, 137 L.Ed.2d 281 (1997), which we read to establish that the "harm ‘produced by determinative or coercive effect’ upon a th......
  • Texas v. Biden, 21-10806
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • December 13, 2021
    ..."rights or obligations [or produce] legal consequences." Texas v. EEOC, 933 F.3d 433, 441 (5th Cir. 2019) (quoting Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154, 177-78 (1997)). Our circuit considers this "a jurisdictional prerequisite of judicial review." Louisiana v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng'rs, 834 F.3d ......
  • United States v. E. River Hous. Corp., 13 Civ. 8650 (ER)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 2, 2015
    ...APA "must be one by which 'rights or obligations have been determined,' or from which 'legal consequences will flow.'" Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154,Page 22178 (1997) (quoting Port of Boston Marine Terminal Assn. v. Rederiaktiebolaget Transatlantic, 400 U.S. 62, 71 (1970)). Additionally, H......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Judging the Fed.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 131 Nbr. 2, November 2021
    • November 1, 2021
    ...Sec 5 U.S.C. [section] 704 (2018). (72.) U.S. Army Corps of Eng'rs v. Hawkes Co., 136 S. Ct. 1807, 1813 (2016) (quoting Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154, 177-78 (73.) See, e.g., Menand, supra note 17, at 953; see also infra note 78. (74.) Menand, supra note 17, at 953. (75.) Under their super......
6 provisions
  • Part II
    • United States
    • Federal Register July 12, 2006
    • July 12, 2006
    ...1540(g). Biological opinions may also be challenged in Federal court under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). See Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154, 178 Alternative 1, the continuation of existing regulations, was not selected because it would continue the requirement that BLM issue a bio......
  • Federal Election Commission,
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 13, 2002
    • December 13, 2002
    ...501 U.S. 104 (1991); see also Federal Election Commission v. Arlen Specter '96, 150 F. Supp.2d 797, 806 (2001), quoting Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154, 173 11 CFR 111.24 Civil Penalties (2 U.S.C. 437g(a)(5), (6), (12), 28 U.S.C. 2461 nt.). The Act imposes civil penalties on anyone violating......
  • Federal Election Campaign Act: Disclaimers, fraudulent solicitation, civil penalties, and personal use of campaign funds,
    • United States
    • Federal Register August 29, 2002
    • August 29, 2002
    ...501 U.S. 104 (1991); see also Federal Election Commission v. Arlen Specter `96, 150 F. Supp.2d 797, 806 (2001), quoting Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154, 173 (1997). ``Damaging'' means ``causing or able to cause damage.'' Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed. Increase in Civil Penalties T......
  • National Environmental Policy Act; implementation: Food contact substance notification system,
    • United States
    • Federal Register May 11, 2000
    • May 11, 2000
    ...and ``must be one by which rights or obligations have been determined, or from which legal consequences will flow.'' (Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154, 177 (1997).) Both conditions must be satisfied for agency action to be considered ``final.'' Id. Inaction under section 409(h) of the act mee......
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