Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife Case Brief

Summary of Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife (1992)

Relevant Facts: APE’s were granted summary judgment by the lower court for their claim that the Endangered Species Act of 1973 was not applicable to anywhere else but in the U.S. territorial boundaries or on the high seas.

Plaintiff’s Argument: An injury in fact is an injury whether a procedural injury or an actual physical injury, Article III does not make a distinction.

Defendant’s Argument: Public interest violations are non concrete injuries, and public interest injuries cannot be conveyed to third party interveners.

Issue: Under constitutional doctrine of standing, is a federal act promoting the safety of endangered species actionable for its lack of geographic scope when the party suing on a jus tertii premise?

Holding: No. APE’s do not have standing, as there is no actual injury to the party suing, so the other 2 prongs of the standing analysis are not even considered.

Court’s Rationale/Reasoning: APE’s needed to show an injury, that the injury caused their harm, and that there is no other judicial relief. The original claim of being injured in not being able to see animals anymore is not an injury in fact. APE’s did have some other creative ideas, such as being a third party suing for the environment. Just as unconvincing is the ecosystem nexus argument, in which any person who uses any part of a contiguous ecosystem adversely affected by a funded activity has standing even if located a far distance away. Nor is the “animal nexus” theory, in which anyone with an interest in animals has standing. The court finds these novel, but unconvincing.

As to redressability, the agencies funding the projects were not part of the case, and the Secretary of the Interior was not a party either, and since the agencies were not parties, no relief could be entered against them.

Lower court found that PL’s/APE’s suffered a procedural injury (procedural right). This is fictional, as the lower court had no right to think that Congress would think that any party to “an abstract, self-contained, noninstrumental “right” to have the executive observe required by law.”

Rule: Past exposure to illegal conduct does not in itself show a present case or controversy regarding injunctive relief if unaccompanied by any continuing, present adverse effects. Deprivation of the right to view animals is not enough.

Important Dicta: N/A.

Dissenting/Concurring: (Justices Kennedy & Souter): The Court should be more aware of unusual claims and defenses with the passing of time.

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