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Hodel v. Indiana

ELR Citation: 11 ELR 20581
Nos. No. 80-231, 452 U.S. 314/16 ERC 1048/(U.S., 06/15/1981) Rev'd

Reversing the district court, 10 ELR 20613, the Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the "prime farmland," "approximate original contour," and other provisions of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). The district court concluded that surface coal mining has little adverse effect on interstate commerce and the challenged provisions thus violate the Commerce Clause. The Supreme Court finds that the district court improperly substituted its judgment for the congressional determination. Based on the available evidence, Congress could reasonably have concluded that surface mining on prime farmland affects interstate commerce in agricultural products. In addition, the other substantive provisions are reasonably related to the legitimate goal of regulating interstate commerce to prevent adverse environmental, health, and safety effects and are not limited to preventing only air and water pollution. Thus, SMCRA satisfies the rational basis test. The Court rejects the district court's conclusion that the Act, by directly regulating the states, violates the Tenth Amendment. The Act directly regulates the activities of only private concerns, and to the extent, if any, that it displaces state land use controls, such effects are merely incidental to the broader purposes of the legislation. Further, the prime farmland and approximate original contour provisions do not violate the equal protection, substantive due process, or takings provisions of the Fifth Amendment. Finally, the Court finds the challenge to the Act's civil penalty provisions premature since appellees did not claim that they were assessed such penalties.

Counsel for Petitioner
Wade H. McCree Jr., Solicitor General
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2201

Virginia Dill McCarty, U.S. Attorney; Harold Bickam, Ass't U.S. Attorney
Rm. 274, Federal Bldg. & U.S. Cthse., 46 E. Ohio St., Indianapolis IN 46204
(317) 269-6333

Alfred T. Ghiorzi
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2738

Counsel for Respondents
Jack O'Neill, Deputy Attorney General
219 State House, Indianapolis IN 46204
(317) 232-6201

G. Daniel Kelley
Ice, Miller, Donadio & Ryan
111 Monument Circle, 10th Floor, Indianapolis IN 46204
(317) 635-1213

Theodore Senback, Attorney General
219 State House, Indianapolis IN 46204
(317) 232-6201