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Dalton v. Specter

United States Supreme Court
511 U.S. 462 (1994)


The Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 (Act) established the procedure for selecting military bases to be closed. In 1991, the U.S. secretary of defense (secretary) (defendant) determined that the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard (shipyard) should be closed based on selection criteria established in compliance with the Act. As required by the Act, the secretary forwarded the closure recommendation to Congress and a commission consisting of eight presidential appointees. The commission held public hearings and forwarded to the president of the United States a report of the commission’s and the secretary’s recommendations. The commission and the secretary were in agreement about the closure of the shipyard. The next and final step in the closure procedure would be completed if the president sent approval of the recommendations to Congress. Before the president could do so, Senator Arlen Specter and others (plaintiffs) filed suit under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., seeking an injunction against the secretary and other government officials (defendants). The plaintiffs argued that the defendants had failed to comply with the procedural requirements of the Act. The district court dismissed the case, holding that the defendants’ actions were not subject to judicial review. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed, concluding that the defendants’ actions were not immune from judicial review. The United States Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded the case to the Third Circuit for reconsideration in light of Franklin v. Massachusetts, 505 U.S. 788 (1992). The Third Circuit concluded that Franklin did not change the outcome. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to review the Third Circuit’s conclusion.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, C.J.)

Concurrence (Souter, J.)

Concurrence (Blackmun, J.)

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