The Wilderness Society v. US Forest Serv., No. 09-35200 - - U.S. Ninth Circuit
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The Wilderness Society v. US Forest Serv., No. 09-35200

Denial of Motion to Intervene Reversed

In The Wilderness Society v. US Forest Serv., No. 09-35200, an appeal from the denial of a motion to intervene, the court reversed where, when construing motions to intervene of right under Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2), courts need no longer apply a categorical prohibition on intervention on the merits, or liability phase, of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) actions, and to determine whether a putative intervenor demonstrates the "significantly protectable" interest necessary for intervention of right in a NEPA action, the operative inquiry should be, as in all cases, whether "the interest is protectable under some law," and whether "there is a relationship between the legally protected interest and the claims at issue."

 

As the court wrote:  "Today we revisit our so-called "federal defendant" rule, which categorically prohibits private parties and state and local governments from intervening of right on the merits of claims brought under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 ("NEPA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321 et seq. Because the rule is at odds with the text of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2) and the standards we apply in all other intervention of right cases, we abandon it here. When construing motions to intervene of right under Rule 24(a)(2), courts need no longer apply a categorical prohibition on intervention on the merits, or liability phase, of NEPA actions."

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