Should endangered species have standing? Toward legal rights for listed species

Social Philosophy and Policy 26 (2):317-352 (2009)
Abstract
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) is America's strongest environmental law. Its citizen-suit provisionany personawards implicit intrinsic value, de facto standing, and operational legal rights (sensu Christopher D. Stone) to listed species. Accordingly, some cases had gone forward in the federal courts in the name of various listed species between 1979 (Palila v. Hawaii Dept. of Land & Natural Resources) and 2004 (Cetacean Community v. Bush), when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that animals could not sue in their own name. Because the Supreme Court has interpreted its habitat destruction as the of a listed species, some have argued that enforcement of the ESA's critical-habitat-protection provision is a of private property without just compensation, contrary to the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. The courts have not agreed. The ESA citizen-suit provision appears to waive federal-court standing requirements devolved from Article III of the U.S. Constitution, creating much confusion and mutually contradictory rulings. A series of cases (culminating with Bennett v. Spear) reconciles the ESA's citizen-suit provision with the particularized and concrete standing requirements devolved from Article III
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