National Association of Home Builders v. Babbitt 130 F.3d 1041 (D.C. Cir. 1997)
The Dehli Sands flower-loving fly lived only in a small
area of California.
Its habitat did not cross State boundaries.
The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) determined that the
fly was an endangered species, and its habitat was a critical habitat.
San Bernadino County wanted to build a hospital on the
land the fly lived on. They negotiated a deal with FWS to build their
hospital, but to set aside another parcel of land for the fly to live on.
FWS issued a permit.
San Bernadino then tried to redesign a highway to improve
access to the hospital. FWS determined that this was constituted a taking
of the fly, in violation of Endangered Species Act §9(a).
ESA §9(a)(1) says that it is unlawful to take any
endangered species within the US.
The case of Babbitt v. Sweet Home Chapter of
Communities for a Greater Oregon (515 U.S. 687 (1995)) had expanded
the definition of take to include causing significant habitat
San Bernadino sued to challenge the application of §9(a)
to the fly.
San Bernadino argued that, based on the recent decision
in United States v. Lopez (514 U.S. 549 (1995)), the Federal
government did not have the Constitutional authority under the Commerce
Clause to regulate the fly, since it was not involved in interstate
commerce, it was just a local land use issue.
The Trial Court found that the FWS had the authority to
regulate the fly.
The Trial Court found that because two botanists traveled
across State lines to visit the fly's habitat, the fly was involved in
interstate commerce, and the Commerce Clause applied.
The Appellate Court affirmed, but for different reasons.
The Appellate Court found that the fly is involved in a
'channel of interstate commerce' because the prohibition against takings
of an endangered species is necessary to enable the Federal government to
control the transport of the endangered species in interstate commerce.
Citing Heart of Atlanta Motel Inc. v. United States
(379 U.S. 241 (1964)), the Court said that "if it is interstate
commerce that feels the pinch, it does not matter how local the
operation which applied the squeeze."
The Appellate Court found that the ESA in general
can be construed as 'substantially affecting interstate commerce' because
of the importance of the continuing availability of a wide variety of
species to interstate commerce.
"ESA substantially affects interstate commerce
for two primary reasons. First, the provision prevents the destruction
of biodiversity and thereby protects the current and future interstate
commerce that relies upon it. Second, the provision controls adverse
effects of interstate competition."