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Holmes Limestone Co. v. Andrus

Citation: 11 ELR 20977
No. No. 80-3666, 655 F.2d 732/17 ERC 1031/(6th Cir., 08/06/1981) Rev'd

The court reverses the district court's ruling, 11 ELR 20166, that only the District Court for the District of Columbia has jurisdiction to hear a challenge to regulations issued under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) prohibiting mining within 100 feet of any cemetery. Appellants had argued to the district court that the regulations as applied to private burial plots violated the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, but their complaint was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals finds that § 526(a)(1) of SMCRA reveals Congress' intent to allow judicial review of national regulations in all federal district courts. The court adds that application of the 100-feet rule to private plots is arbitrary and capricious. Nor is it reasonable to require judicial review of the regulations within 60 days of promulgation since appellants had no knowledge of the regulations and could not have been expected to mount a preenforcement challenge to them. The court finds it unnecessary to rule on the alleged constitutional violations and remands for further proceedings.

One judge concurs that the district court had jurisdiction, reasoning that the ambiguous statutory language and legislative history should be construed to permit judicial relief. The judge would refuse to review the merits of the statutory claims but would affirm the trial court's rejection of the constitutional claims.

Counsel are listed at 11 ELR 20166.

Before: WEICK and MERRITT, Circuit Judges and ENSLEN, U.S. District Judge.*