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Mountain States Legal Found. v. Bush

Citation: 33 ELR 20077
No. No. 01-5421, 306 F.3d 1132/(D.C. Cir., 10/18/2002)

The court affirms a district court dismissal of a property rights group's complaint challenging six national monument designations by President William J. Clinton under the Antiquities Act. The group claimed that President Clinton acted unconstitutionally and ultra vires under the Property Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The government responded that the designation fell under the Antiquities Act and that Act's standard of review. The group claimed that fact-finding was necessary to determine that the president had acted within the authority of the Antiquities Act, but the district court dismissed the group's complaint. The group appealed. The court first holds that although review of presidential proclamations under the Antiquities Act are subject to ultra vires review to determine consistency with the Constitution and the statute itself, such review is not available here because the group failed to allege any facts sufficient to support an ultra vires claim. The group claimed that the six designations exceeded the president's authority under the Property Clause, but the Antiquities Act, and not the Property Clause authorized the designations. The group's argument that the Antiquities Act does not authorize the designation of land fails in light of U.S. Supreme Court precedent authorizing the designation of land as national monuments. To the extent that the group seeks ultra vires review under the Antiquities Act, it provides only bald assertions that the president acted outside the bounds of his constitutional and statutory authority. No factual allegations are presented and nothing in the record indicates any infirmity with the challenged designations. Moreover, the court holds that the group's claim that the monument designations violate several other statutes that are the sole means of protecting resources, such as endangered species or wilderness, fails, because none of the referenced statutes are the sole means of protecting the referenced resources.

Counsel for Appellants
S. Amanda Koehler
Mountain States Legal Foundation
1660 Lincoln St., Denver CO 80624
(303) 861-0244

Counsel for Appellees
Susan Pacholski
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000