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Wildearth Guardians v. United States Department of Justice

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20181
Nos. 17-16677, (9th Cir., 10/23/2018)

In an unpublished opinion, the Ninth Circuit vacated a district court's order granting summary judgment to environmental groups challenging DOJ's McKittrick policy. The groups argued before the district court that the policy, which directs prosecutors to request jury instructions with a heightened mens rea requirement in prosecutions under the ESA, was arbitrary and inconsistent with the ESA because it decreased the deterrent effect of the Act's prohibition against taking protected Mexican grey wolves and thus led to an increased number of wolf killings. The district court agreed and granted summary judgment. On appeal, the court found that the groups lacked standing to bring this challenge because they failed to show both that the injury was fairly traceable to the agency's policy and that the requested relief would actually redress that injury by decreasing the number of Mexican wolves that are killed. The appellate court therefore vacated the district court's order and remanded with instructions to dismiss the groups' complaint for lack of standing.