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Petitions of the week: Atlantic Ocean canyons, Utah wilderness roads and more

This week we highlight cert petitions that ask the Supreme Court to weigh in on a pair of disputes with environmental implications. Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association v. Ross involves the intersection of two federal statutes and a stretch of the Atlantic Ocean containing three deep-sea canyons and four underwater mountains. The National Marine Sanctuaries Act governs the protection of marine areas, delegating authority to the president but also requiring a specific process for the designation of marine sanctuaries, subject to review by Congress and affected states. In contrast, the Antiquities Act authorizes the president to declare national monuments on land owned or controlled by the federal government, without the same review process. The Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association sued to challenge a proclamation by President Barack Obama designating 3.2 million acres of the Atlantic Ocean as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. The association argues that the monument exceeds the president’s power under the Antiquities Act and circumvents the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. Though President Donald Trump lifted the prohibition on commercial fishing in the area, the association argues the case is not moot because the monument otherwise remains unaffected.

In Kane County, Utah v. United States and United States v. Kane County, Utah, Kane County and Utah sued the federal government to claim title to the rights-of-way for 15 roads crossing federal land. Two environmental groups, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and The Wilderness Society, sought to intervene in the dispute because of their interest in preventing possible harm to the surrounding area from increased traffic. The petitions ask the Supreme Court to weigh in on whether the environmental groups, under Rule 24 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, have demonstrated a right to intervene in the case.

These and other petitions of the week are below the jump:

Himsel v. 4/9 Livestock, LLC
Issue: Whether a state statute violates the takings clause of the United States Constitution when it provides complete immunity from nuisance and trespass liability for an industrial-scale hog facility newly sited next to long-standing family homes, even though the facility causes noxious waste substances to continuously invade those homes, making it impossible for the families to use and enjoy their properties where they have lived for decades.

Kane County, Utah v. United States
Issues: (1) Whether Rule 24(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows intervention as of right where the movant does not have a significant, cognizable interest in the lawsuit; and (2) whether the United States adequately represents its title, which is the only interest at issue in a quiet title suit.

Jones v. Kalbaugh
Issues: (1) Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit improperly focused on the knowledge and intentions of the suspect, rather than the facts knowable to the officers, in reversing the district court’s grant of qualified immunity in an excessive force case; and (2) whether the 10th Circuit analyzed clearly established law at too high a level of generality by relying on general statements of Fourth Amendment excessive force principles rather than identifying a case in which officers acting under similar circumstances were held to have violated the Fourth Amendment.

Hutchings v. Ross
Issue: Whether Rule 10(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a habeas petitioner to rely on a state court order appended to, but never mentioned in, his original federal habeas petition to supply the core operative facts necessary to satisfy the relation-back standard set forth in Mayle v. Felix.

United States v. Kane County, Utah
Issue: Whether an advocacy organization’s environmental concerns qualify as an “interest” required by Rule 24(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for the organization to intervene as of right as a party defendant in a pending civil action, where no judicial relief could be granted against that organization in the action and its environmental concerns are unrelated to any claim or defense that the organization could itself assert in the action.

Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association v. Ross
Issues: (1) Whether, in conflict with the holdings of the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 5th and 11th Circuits and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, the Antiquities Act applies to ocean areas beyond United States’ sovereignty where the federal government has only limited regulatory authority; and (2) whether the president can evade the Antiquities Act’s “smallest area” requirement, including designating ocean monuments larger than most states, by vaguely referencing “resources” or an “ecosystem” as the objects to be protected.

Recommended Citation: Andrew Hamm, Petitions of the week: Atlantic Ocean canyons, Utah wilderness roads and more, SCOTUSblog (Aug. 20, 2020, 4:03 PM),