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Saipan v. Department of the Interior

Citation: 4 ELR 20723
No. No. 73-1769, 502 F.2d 90/6 ERC 1952/(9th Cir., 07/16/1974) Aff'd

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirms, with modifications, a district court's ruling that the Micronesia Trust Territory government is not a federal agency subject to review under the Administrative Procedure Act of NEPA, and that the Trusteeship Agreement does not vest plaintiffs with individual legal rights which they can assert in a federal court. The circuit court holds that the Agreement does create for the islanders substantive rights regarding protection against the loss of their lands and resources, but that these rights should be enforced in the High Court of the Trust Territory. If, however, the island court refuses to recognize jurisdiction over plaintiffs' claims that the Trust Territory High Commissioner acted illegally in executing a lease for the construction and operation of a private hotel on public land adjacent to Micro Beach, Saipan, then plaintiffs may reassert their claims in the U.S. district court. The circuit court emphasizes that it refuses to leave plaintiffs without a forum which can hear their claims that the High Commissioner has violated the duties regarding environmental protection assumed by the U.S. in the Trusteeship Agreement. For the district court's opinion see 3 ELR 20298.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Charles W. Kenady
Cooper, White & Cooper
44 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, Cal. 94104

Counsel for Defendants
Edmund B. Clark
Jacques B. Gelin
Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530