Monday, October 23, 2017

Case of the Day: Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Mattis, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 15841 (9th Cir. Aug. 21, 2017)


Plaintiffs are NGOs who challenged the construction of additional military bases in Okinawa, Japan, based on the alleged violation of the National Historic Preservation Act. Specifically, plaintiffs allege the new base endangers the Okinawa dugong, whose numbers could be as few as 50. The district court dismissed the claim, holding the plaintiffs lacked standing. The defendant is the Secretary of Defense.

The Ninth Circuit partially reversed. The court found that two of the plaintiffs were tourism company operators who did indeed suffer injury in fact that is fairly traceable to the governmental activity. The government also claimed the issue was a non-justiciable political question, but the court rejected the argument. Then the court remanded to the district court for further proceedings.


How U.S. courts handle matters arising from the U.S. military bases abroad always fascinated me. How did these plaintiffs get organized? Are they primarily Americans, or Japanese? What might the court differently because the subject matter is not in the United States?

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