Ancient Forests and the Supreme Court: Issuing a Blank Check for Appropriation Riders
24 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2017
Date Written: March 14, 1993
This article discusses the background and significance of Robertson v. Seattle Audubon Society, a decision that upheld an appropriation rider, popularly known as the Northwest Timber Compromise, under which Congress authorized certain timber sales in old-growth forests despite lower court decisions enjoining the sales for violations of environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Forest Management Act. The article claims that the decision--Justice Thomas' first environmental opinion for the Court--reflects the Court's willingness to defer to congressional control over pending litigation and its unwillingness to make Congress legislate according to its own rules. But the article claims that the decision will have little legacy beyond the sixteen timber sales it freed from judicial injunction. And indeed the year after the decision, the Clinton Administration approved the Northwest Forest Plan, which curtailed industrial logging like the sixteen clearcut sales involved in the case.
Keywords: forest management, federal land planning, National Environmental Policy Act, National Forest Management Act, old-growth forests
JEL Classification: H11, H12, H41, K11, K23, K32, N52, O13, O44, Q23, Q24, Q28, R14, R52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation