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Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife

United States Supreme Court
504 U.S. 555 (1992)



Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), as amended 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq., requires federal agencies to consult with the Secretary of the Interior or Commerce before undertaking actions that might jeopardize endangered or threatened species. The ESA provides that any person may initiate a civil suit on her own behalf to enjoin anyone, including governmental entities, from violating the ESA. In 1978, the Secretaries promulgated a joint regulation stating that the ESA consultation requirement extended to federal actions taken in foreign nations. A new joint regulation limiting the geographic scope to the United States and the high seas was proposed in 1983 and adopted in 1986. Organizations dedicated to the protection of wildlife (plaintiffs) sued the Secretary of the Interior, Lujan (Secretary) (defendant), seeking a declaratory judgment that the new regulation’s interpretation was wrong and an injunction requiring the Secretary to restore the initial interpretation of the geographic scope of the statute. The plaintiffs argued they were injured because a lack of consultation for governmental activities abroad increases the rate of extinction of endangered species. The Secretary moved to dismiss based on the plaintiffs’ lack of standing. The district court granted the motion, but the court of appeals reversed and remanded. The district court then granted the plaintiffs’ summary judgment motion and issued the injunction. The appellate court affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Scalia, J.)

Concurrence (Kennedy, J.)

Concurrence (Stevens, J.)

Dissent (Blackmun, J.)

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