Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

North American Butterfly Ass'n v. Wolf

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20232
Nos. 19-5052, (D.C. Cir., 10/13/2020)

The D.C. Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part a lower court's dismissal of a conservation group's suit to block the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from constructing a border wall near the National Butterfly Center in southern Texas. The group argued that the Department's presence on and use of parts of the Center to prepare for and carry out construction of the wall violated the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, and that its failure to complete an EIS or consult with FWS violated NEPA and the ESA. The district court dismissed the suit, concluding that the group had stated no viable constitutional claim and that the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act stripped jurisdiction over its statutory claims because the secretary of DHS waived application of environmental laws with respect to the construction of roads and physical barriers to be built at the Center. The appellate court found that the waiver determination defeated the group's statutory claims and that the group had failed to state a Fourth Amendment claim of unreasonable seizure of property it acknowledged to be "open fields," but that the group had plausibly pleaded a procedural due process claim based on the Department's allegedly unauthorized occupation and use of its land. It therefore reversed and remanded on the Fifth Amendment claim, but affirmed dismissal of the statutory and Fourth Amendment claims.