Japan Whaling Association v. American Cetacean Society

478 U.S. 221 (1986)

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Japan Whaling Association v. American Cetacean Society

United States Supreme Court
478 U.S. 221 (1986)

Facts

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) set limits on the number of whales that a country could harvest in a given year. The IWC declared a five-year moratorium on whaling effective in 1985. Japan filed timely objections for the purpose of opting out of the moratorium. In response, the executive branch of the United States government entered an agreement with Japan—without Senate advice and consent—by which Japan was permitted to violate IWC quotas but stop commercial whaling in 1988. The American Cetacean Society (plaintiff) and other parties sought a declaratory judgment that US Secretary of Commerce Malcom Baldridge (the commerce secretary) (defendant) had violated the Pelly and Packwood Amendments, which required the commerce secretary to monitor and investigate IWC violations by foreign nations and certify conduct that diminished the effectiveness of the IWC. A certification would result in a reduction in the offending nation’s allocation within the US fishery conservation zone. The Japan Whaling Association and the Japan Fishing Association were intervenors in the suit. The federal district court ordered the commerce secretary to certify that Japan was in violation of the IWC, and the federal court of appeals affirmed. The commerce secretary appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

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