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National Wildlife Fed'n v. United States

Citation: 8 ELR 20651
No. No. 78-1039, (D.D.C., 07/20/1978)

The court denies plaintiff's request for mandamus directing the President of the United States to issue a supplemental budget statement under § 8(b) of the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974. The court declares moot the first of plaintiff's claims, that the President failed to comply with the Act's directive that all budgetary requests for United States Forest Service (USFS) activities be accompanied by a detailed description of the extent to which those activities achieve the policies set forth in the Act. Although the fiscal year 1979 appropriation request for the USFS was not accompanied by the required explanation, testimony subsequently presented to congressional committees by executive branch representatives conveyed to Congress information in sufficient detail and quantity to meet the Act's requirement. The court declines to determine whether there is any factual basis to plaintiff's second claim that the President violated the directive within § 8(b) that any budget request recommending less than full achievement of the Act's policies include a statement of reasons for the shortcoming. The general terms in which the latter requirement is couched reflects congressional intent to confer considerable discretion upon the President in submitting the statement of reasons. Thus, this case is not appropriate for the issuance of mandamus, which lies only to order the performance of a purely ministerial act. This finding is buttressed by the proper reluctance of the judiciary to delve into the essentially political questions which arise in disputes between the legislative and executive branches over budgetary and appropriation matters.

For a summary of the court papers filed in this action, see ELR PEND. LIT. 65570.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Patrick Parenteau
National Wildlife Federation
1412 16th St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 797-6800

Counsel for Defendants
Cameron M. Blake, Ass't U.S. Attorney
3rd & Constitution NW, 3500 E St., Washington DC 20001
(202) 426-7511

James T. Draude
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 737-2807