Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cetacean Community v. Bush case brief

Cetacean Community v. Bush case brief
386 F.3d 1169

CASE SYNOPSIS: Plaintiff cetacean community sued appellee, the President of the United States, and alleged that the Navy violated the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C.S. § 1531 et seq., the Marine Mammal Protection Act , 16 U.S.C.S. § 1361 et seq., and the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C.S. § 4321 et seq. The United States District Court for the District of Hawaii dismissed the claims. The cetaceans appealed.

FACTS: The cetaceans, which consisted of all the world's whales, porpoises, and dolphins, challenged the United States Navy's use of surveillance towed array sensor system low frequency active sonar during wartime or heightened threat conditions. 

  • The appellate court found that although the U.S. Constitutional Article III did not prevent Congress from authorizing a suit in the name of an animal, the cetacean community did not have standing to sue under 
  • (1) the Endangered Species Act, 15 U.S.C.S. § 1531 et seq., since there was no hint in the definition of "person" in 16 U.S.C.S. § 1532(13) that the "person" authorized to bring suit to protect an endangered or threatened species could be an animal that is itself endangered or threatened; 
  • (2) the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C.S. § 701 et seq., since § 10(a) (5 U.S.C.S. § 702(a)) of the APA did not define "person" to include animals; or 
  • (3) the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), 16 U.S.C.S. § 1361 et seq., since no court had ever held that an animal, even a marine mammal whose protection was at stake, had standing to sue in its own name to require that a party seek a permit or letter of authorization under the MMPA.
CONCLUSION: The district court's dismissal of the claims was affirmed.

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