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Humane Soc'y of the United States v. Hodel

ELR Citation: 18 ELR 20636
Nos. No. 87-5095, 840 F.2d 45/(D.C. Cir., 02/16/1988)

The court holds that the Humane Society has standing on behalf of its members to challenge the Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS') decision to allow hunting in national wildlife refuges. The court holds that the Humane Society has established injury-in-fact. The court holds that the injuries that the Humane Society has alleged on behalf of its members are constitutionally cognizable. Although injuries to the members' interests in enforcement of environmental laws at the refuges is not an adequate basis for standing, the members' desire not to witness animal corpses and environmental degradation is a cognizable aesthetic injury.

The court holds that the Humane Society has standing to sue on behalf of its injured members. The Humane Society has clearly satisfied two of the three prongs of the organizational standing test, since its members have standing to sue in their own right and the relief sought does not require participation of any individual member. The court rules that the third prong of the test, the requirement that the interests an organization seeks to protect be germane to its organizational purposes, requires only that the organization's purpose be pertinent to the subject of the litigation. The advantages of association suits, including specialized expertise and the probability that the association will work to promote its members' interests, support this liberal interpretation of the germaneness requirement. In establishing the germaneness requirement, the Supreme Court likely intended merely to prevent litigious organizations from pursuing cases outside their realm of expertise and the interests of most of their members. The court next holds that the Humane Society's challenge to hunting on wildlife refuges is germane to the Society's purposes. The members' interests in viewing live animals is pertinent to the Society's humanitarian goals. The failure of the Humane Society's certificate of incorporation to specifically list its members' interest in viewing animals as an organizational goal is not dispositive and, in any event, enhanced human appreciation of other living things is a side goal of the stated goal of preserving animal life.

The court holds that the Humane Society has also satisfied the prudential requirements for standing, since its claims are within the zone of interests protected by the Endangered Species Act, the Refuge Recreation Act, and the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act. The Society's interest in protecting its members' aesthetic interest in viewing live animals bears a plausible relationship to the policies in these three statutes, which are directed at the protection of wildlife. Finally, the court holds that the FWS' decision not to prepare an environmental impact statement for its proposal to allow some bird hunting in a portion of a wildlife refuge was not arbitrary and capricious.

[Briefs from this litigation are digested at ELR PEND. LIT. 65844, 65892, 65914, and 65980.]

Counsel for Appellants
David J. Hayes, David F. Grady, Craig A. Hoover
Hogan & Hartson
Columbia Square, 555 13th St. NW, Washington DC 20004-1109
(202) 637-5600

Counsel for Appellees
Dirk D. Snel
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-4400

Before: WALD, Chief Judge, BORK, Circuit Judge,[*] and GIBSON,[**] Circuit Judge.