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

Blumm, Michael C., Ancient Forests and the Supreme Court: Issuing a Blank Check for Appropriation Riders (March 14, 1993). Washington University Journal of Law and Policy, Vol. 43, No. 35, 1993. Available at SSRN:

Michael C. Blumm (Contact Author)

Lewis & Clark Law School ( email )

10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219
United States
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