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People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service

852 F.3d 990 (2017)

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People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

852 F.3d 990 (2017)

Facts

Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (the act) to authorize the secretary of the interior and the secretary of commerce with the authority to protect endangered and threatened species. The secretaries tasked the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (the service) (defendant) and the National Marine Fisheries Service with executing the act. The service promulgated a special rule regulating the taking of the Utah prairie dog, which was deemed as a threatened species and only lived in Utah. The special rule provided that Utah prairie dogs could not be subjected to takings on nonfederal land, absent few exceptions. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners (PETPO) (plaintiff) filed an action in federal district court challenging the rule on the ground that the regulation of an intrastate species on nonfederal land unconstitutionally exceeded Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause in Article I of the United States Constitution. The service and the group Friends of Animals, who intervened in the suit, argued that the regulation was proper and challenged PETPO’s standing to file the suit. The district court held that PEPTO had standing but that the rule exceeded Congress’ Commerce Clause powers because the taking of the Utah prairie dog on nonfederal land did not have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. Therefore, the court held that Congress did not have the power to delegate the service with the authority to pass the rule. The matter was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Holmes, J.)

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