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Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v. Glickman

Citation: 29 ELR 20202
No. 97-5009, 154 F.3d 426/(D.C. Cir., 09/01/1998)

The court holds that an individual who suffered aesthetic injuries while observing captive animals living under inhumane conditions at a zoo has standing to challenge U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations as violating the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The court first holds that the individual's allegations solidly establish injury-in-fact. His affidavit describes both the animal exhibition that he regularly visits and the specific animals there whose condition caused him injury. During his visits to the exhibition, he suffered direct, concrete, and particularized injury to his aesthetic interest in observing animals living under humane conditions. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly made clear that injury to an aesthetic interest in the observation of animals is sufficient to satisfy the demands of Article III standing.

The court next holds that the individual's allegations satisfy the causation prong of Article III standing. He alleges that the USDA failed to adopt the specific, minimum standards to govern the humane treatment of primates that the AWA requires. He further describes how the conditions that caused him injury complied with current USDA regulations, and alleges that regulations complying with the AWA would have prohibited those conditions and protected him from the injuries that his affidavit recounts. The court also holds that the individual satisfies the redressibility element of constitutional standing. More stringent regulations, which prohibit the inhumane conditions that have consistently caused the individual aesthetic injury in the past, would necessarily alleviate his aesthetic injury during his planned, future trips to the zoo. Last, the court holds that the individual falls within the zone of interests protected under the AWA's provisions on animal exhibitions. His interests are among those that Congress sought to benefit through the AWA, and he certainly is one of the individuals who, in practice, can be expected to police the interests that the statute protects.

Dissenting judges would hold that the individual does not have standing. They believe that the majority's ruling is a departure from existing aesthetic injury jurisprudence and an unwarranted erosion of the standards for constitutional standing. Even if they shared the majority's view with respect to injury-in-fact, the dissenting judges would hold that the individual failed to establish causation.

[A prior decision in this litigation is published at 28 ELR 20395.]

Counsel for Appellees
Katherine A. Meyer
Meyer & Glitzenstein
1601 Connecticut Ave. NW, Ste. 450, Washington DC 20009
(202) 588-5206

Counsel for Appellants
Stephen W. Preston
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Before Edwards, Silberman, Williams, Ginsburg, Sentelle, Henderson, Randolph, Rogers, Tatel, and Garland, JJ.