Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation
497 U.S. 871 (1990)
The Bureau of Land Management
(BLM), acting under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), made some changes to the 'land-use designations' 1,250 parcels
of Federal land.
So for example, they changed
the designation of some land from being fully protected against logging,
to one where logging was allowed.
The National Wildlife
Federation (NWF) sued for an injunction under the Administrative
Procedures Act (5 U.S.C.
§702) claiming that the changes were
"arbitrary and capricious," and therefore not allowed.
In order to bring the claim,
NWF argued that it had standing to
sue because two of its members used public lands "in the
vicinity" of lands affected by the BLM's decisions.
One wrote, "my
recreational use and aesthetic enjoyment of federal lands... have been
adversely affected by...[opening the lands to mining claims and oil and
The Trial Court dismissed the
suit. NWF appealed.
The Trial Court found that
NWF did not have standing to bring
The Court noted that even if
the two members did give standing
to sue on those particular parcels, it wasn't enough to give NWF standing to challenge BLMs' decisions on the other
The Appellate Court reversed.
The Appellate Court found
that the two members gave NWF standing to bring the lawsuit.
The US Supreme Court reversed
and found for BLM.
The US Supreme Court found
that the two members wouldn't be affected enough by the BLM decision to
have standing to bring a lawsuit
involving so many different administrative decisions.
The Court found that each of
the 1,250 decisions needed to be challenged individually on a
case-by-case basis, so the two members could at best only give NWF standing to challenge two decisions.
approach that this requires is understandably frustrating to an
organization such as NWF, which has as its objective across-the-board
protection of our Nation's wildlife and the streams and forests that
support it... But this is the traditional, and remains the normal, mode
of operation of the courts. ...more sweeping actions are for the other
NWF unsuccessfully argued
that it was 'judicially efficient' to deal with it all at once, since it
was essentially the same issue in every case. But that didn't sway the
In a dissent, it was argued
that two affidavits were 'illustrative', and that if NWF could get two,
they could almost certainly get hundreds, and there was no reason to make
them jump through hoops to establish standing. The dissent also agreed that it would be
judicially efficient to deal with this in one case, as opposed to clogging
the courts with 1,250 separate cases.
In general, there are four
requirements in order to have standing to sue. The plaintiff must allege
The challenged action will
cause the plaintiff some actual or threatened injury-in-fact,
The injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action,
The injury is redressable by judicial action, and
The injury is to an interest
arguably within the zone of interests
to be protected by the statute alleged to have been violated.