Norton v. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance: The U.S. Supreme Court Fails to Act on Agency Inaction

  • Christopher M. Buell

Abstract

Citing inaction by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in preventing damage to lands designated for possible preservation from explosive increases in off-road vehicle use, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) sued BLM in 1998 to force it to prevent impairment of the lands. Although the case involved preservation and land-use management statutes, the conflict ultimately came down to the courts’ power under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to force an agency to comply with a statutory mandate to preserve wilderness areas. After a Utah district court dismissed SUWA’s claims and the Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case and issued a unanimous opinion in June 2004. In Norton v. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Court dismissed SUWA’s claims for a lack of subject matter jurisdiction, reasoning that the APA does not sanction judicial review of agency inaction unless the action sought to be compelled is “discrete agency action.”
Published
2006-04-26
How to Cite
Buell, Christopher M. 2006. “Norton V. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance: The U.S. Supreme Court Fails to Act on Agency Inaction”. University of Pittsburgh Law Review 67 (3). https://doi.org/10.5195/lawreview.2006.62.
Section
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