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National Park Hospitality Ass'n v. Department of the Interior

ELR Citation: 33 ELR 20204
Nos. No. 02-196, (U.S., 05/27/2003)

The U.S. Supreme Court holds that an association's claim that a National Park Service (NPS) regulation that purports to render the Contract Disputes Act (CDA) inapplicable to concession contracts is not yet ripe for adjudication. The lower courts upheld the regulation, finding that the NPS' interpretation of the CDA was reasonable. However, the Court first holds that NPS has no delegated rulemaking authority under the CDA, therefore, the applicable regulation is not a legislative regulation with the force of law. It is nothing more than a general policy statement designed to inform the public of NPS’ views on the CDA’s proper application. The regulation, therefore, does not create “adverse effects of a strictly legal kind,” which the Court has previously required for a showing of hardship. Moreover, it leaves the concessioner free to conduct its business as it sees fit. Mere uncertainty as to the validity of a legal rule does not constitute a hardship for purposes of the ripeness analysis. In addition, further factual development would significantly advance the Court's ability to deal with the legal issues presented. Judicial resolution of the question presented, therefore, should await a concrete dispute about a particular concession contract.

Counsel for Petitioner
Kenneth S. Geller
Mayer, Brown & Platt
1909 K St. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 263-3000

Counsel for Respondent
Michael A. Carvin
Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue
51 Louisiana Ave. NW, Washington DC 20001
(202) 879-3939