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Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association v. Ross

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

December 27, 2019

Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association, et al., Appellants
v.
Wilbur Ross, in his official capacity as Secretary of Department of Commerce, et al., Appellees

          Argued October 22, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:17-cv-00406)

          Jonathan Wood argued the cause for appellants. With him on the briefs were Damien M. Schiff and Joshua P. Thompson.

          Avi Kupfer, Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, argued the cause for federal appellees. With him on the brief were Jeffrey Bossert Clark, Assistant Attorney General, Eric Grant, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and Andrew C. Mergen and Robert J. Lundman, Attorneys.

          Katherine Desormeau argued the cause for defendants-intervenors-appellees. With her on the brief were Ian Fein, Peter Shelley, and Roger Fleming.

          David J. Berger and Justin A. Cohen were on the brief for amici curiae Academic Scientists in support of appellees.

          Paul M. Thompson was on the brief for amici curiae Alison Rieser, et al. supporting defendant's brief affirming the District Court.

          Nicholas A. DiMascio, Samantha R. Caravello, and Lori Potter were on the brief for amicus curiae National Audubon Society in support of appellees and supporting affirmance.

          Andrew J. Pincus was on the brief for amici curiae Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator Brian Schatz in support of appellees and for affirmance of the District Court's judgment.

          Douglas W. Baruch was on the brief for amici curiae Ocean and Coastal Law Professors in support of defendants-appellees and defendants-intervenors-appellees and affirmation.

          Before: Tatel and Millett, Circuit Judges, and Ginsburg, Senior Circuit Judge.

          OPINION

          TATEL, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         Acting pursuant to the Antiquities Act, 54 U.S.C. §§ 320301 et seq., President Obama established the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument to protect "distinct geological features" and "unique ecological resources" in the northern Atlantic Ocean. Proclamation No. 9496, 3 C.F.R. 262, 262 (2017) ("Monument Proclamation"). Several commercial-fishing associations challenged the creation of the Monument, arguing that the President exceeded his statutory authority. The district court disagreed and dismissed the complaint. With a minor alteration, we affirm.

         I.

         "[A] statute of historical importance for natural resource conservation and for archeological and historic preservation in the United States," the Antiquities Act grew out of a movement to protect the nation's unique historical, archeological, and scientific heritage. Bruce Babbitt, Introduction, in The Story of the Antiquities Act (Ronald F. Lee, 2001). "[B]eg[inning] in 1879," "[a] whole generation of dedicated . . . scholars, citizens, and members of Congress . . . through [their] explorations, publications, exhibits, and other activities," id. (internal quotation marks omitted), pushed for the enactment of "national preservation legislation," culminating in 1906 with the passage of the Antiquities Act, Ronald F. Lee, The Antiquities Act, 1900-06, in The Story of the Antiquities Act (Ronald F. Lee, 2001). To this day, the Act remains "a major part of the legal foundation for archeological, historic, and natural conservation and preservation in the United States." Babbitt, supra.

         The Act provides that "[t]he President may, in the President's discretion, declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated on land owned or controlled by the Federal Government to be national monuments." 54 U.S.C. § 320301(a). The Act also authorizes the "President [to] reserve parcels of land as a part of the national monuments," so long as reservations are "confined to the ...


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