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National Wildlife Fed'n v. United States

Citation: 10 ELR 20172
No. No. 78-1976, 626 F.2d 917/(D.C. Cir., 02/11/1980) Aff'd

The court affirms the district court's dismissal, 8 ELR 20651, of a suit in which appellant challenged the adequacy of explanations accompanying the President's proposed 1979 budget reductions for certain national forest programs. Appellant sought mandamus and declaratory relief, arguing that § 8(b) of the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act required a fuller explanation than was provided for certain cuts in the Forest Service budget. The district court dismissed on the grounds that the lawsuit was moot and raised a non-justiciable political question. Subsequently, Congress passed the Forest Service appropriations bill. Noting that the power to grant mandamus and declaratory relief is discretionary, the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals affirms the lower court's denial of relief without reaching the merits of the adequacy of the President's submissions under the Act. The court notes that the public interest is served by judicial restraint in this instance because the issue can be better settled by the legislative and executive branches. The court's basis for its holding is respect for the lower court's exercise of discretion: it declines to reach the serious justiciability issues of whether appellant has standing, whether the case raises a political question, and whether the issue is moot, adding that such a case is unlikely to arise again. Further, it finds that neither legislators nor witnesses at hearings complained about the adequacy of the challenged presidential explanations, making an award of mandamus even less appropriate.

Counsel for Appellant
Peter C. Kirby
National Wildlife Federation
1412 16th St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 797-6800

Counsel for Appellees
Anne S. Almy; James W. Moorman, Ass't Attorney General; Robert L. Klarquist, James T. Draude
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2855

Earl J. Silbert, U.S. Attorney; Cameron M. Blake, Ass't U.S. Attorney
Room 3600-E, U.S. Courthouse, 3d and Constitution Ave. NW, Washington DC 20001
(202) 633-4964

Before McGowan, Leventhal* & Penn**, JJ.