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Adams v. Vance

Citation: 8 ELR 20160
No. No. 77-1960, 570 F.2d 950/11 ERC 1113/(D.C. Cir., 10/24/1977)

The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacates a lower court's order requiring the Secretary of State to object to the International Whaling Commission's ban on Eskimo hunting of the bowhead whale and thereby make the ban inapplicable in Alaska. Assuming without deciding that plaintiffs' claim for relief did not constitute a nonjusticiable political question involving foreign affairs, the court determines that plaintiffs have failed to make the extraordinarily strong showing necessary to justify injunctive relief which intrudes into the foreign policy concerns of the executive branch. An injunction is thus unwarranted notwithstanding plaintiffs' apparently meritorious claims that a failure to object would violate the United States' trust obligations to the Eskimo and that the environmental impact statement (EIS) failed to consider possible alternatives. The district court based its injunctive order on the mistaken belief that filing an objection would in no way injure the United States because it could later be withdrawn. Affidavits filed with the court and assertions in the EIS indicate that even a provisional objection might prejudice the ongoing efforts of the United States government to establish and administer an effective international machinery for the protection of marine mammals. The court also notes that the Commission later modified its position to permit subsistence hunting of a limited number of bowhead whales by Alaskan natives.

Counsel for Plaintiffs-Appellees
S. Lynn Sutcliffe
1220 19th St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 331-9400

Counsel for Defendants-Appellants
James W. Moorman, Ass't Attorney General; Bruce C. Rashkow, Edmund B. Clark, Margaret Strand
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 737-8200

Counsel for Amicus Curiae Center for Environmental Education, Inc.
Roger A. Klein
Rollinson & Schaumberg
Suite 1300, 1019 19th St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 785-4200

Counsel for Amicus Curiae National Wildlife Federation
Oliver A. Houck
1412 16th St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 797-6800

Counsel for Amicus Curiae Committee for Humane Legislation
Bernard Fensterwald, Jr., Marc Feldman
Fensterwald & McCandless
Suite 1005, 1707 H St. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 223-8440

Leventhal, Robinson & Wilkey, JJ.