Assoc. v. Dole (II)
870 F.2d 1419 (9th
- Stop H-3 Association,
a Hawaiian non-profit corporation
- Life of the Land, a
Hawaiian non-profit corporation
- Hui Malama Aina O
- Boyce R. Brown, Jr.,
Johnston & Day, Honolulu, Hawai‘i
- Elizabeth Dole,
Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation
- William Lake, Hawai‘i
Division Engineer, Federal Highways Administration
- Edward Hirata,
Director of the Department of Transportation of the State of Hawai‘i
- Kathryn A. Oberly,
Special Deputy Atty. General, State of Hawai‘i
- Mayer, Brown &
Platt, Washington, D.C.
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
United States District Court for the District of Hawai‘i
Key laws involved:
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 4321-4347 (1976 & Supp. V 1981) (NEPA)
Endangered Species Act of 1973, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1543 (1982) (ESA)
Department of Transportation Act of 1966, 49 U.S.C. §
303 (1976 & Supp. V 1981) (DOTA)*
Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1966, 23 U.S.C. § 138
* referred to as Section 4(f)
- The appellants appealed
the district court’s decision to lift a previous injunction barring
the construction of the H-3 highway (see Stop H-3 v. Dole,
740 F.2d 1442 (9th Cir. 1984) for prior case history). The appellants also sought the re-imposition
of the injunction based on violations of the Spending Clause, the
Due Process Clause, and various other statutes.
- The appellants claimed
that the appellees had not complied with the terms of the previous
injunction, stating that the Court must determine the adequacy of a
third Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). In accordance with the previous injunction,
the appellees prepared a SEIS in 1980 as directed by the Court to
adequately discuss the project’s impact on Moanalua Valley. The Court held that the SEIS was
sufficient, but since it was two years old, the Court directed the
appellees to conduct a second SEIS. The Court reasoned that too
much time had passed to reflect “new and significant” information that
arose from the first SEIS. The
appellees prepared a second SEIS that was subsequently approved by the
Federal Highway Administration (FHA) in 1982. Based on this approval, the Secretary of Transportation
granted new location and design approvals for the H-3 project—approvals
that were never challenged by the appellants.
- The appellants
challenged the Court’s 1982 decision; however that decision, with
respect to the adequacy of the 1980 EIS, was affirmed by the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals in 1984.
In that same case, the Court chose to reverse the district
court’s conclusion that the Secretary complied with Section 4(f) of the
DOTA, 49 U.S.C. § 1653(f) and Section 18 of FAHA, 23 U.S.C. § 138
(hereafter Section 4(f)). After
the 1984 Court of Appeal’s decision, the only obstacles blocking the H-3
construction were the compliance of Section 4(f) and the district
court’s approval of the final EIS.
On October 18, 1986, President Reagan signed Public Law No.
99-500, 100 Stat. 1783 ordering the Secretary to approve the
construction of H-3 (Section 114).
The Court held that this law was obviously intended to exempt the
H-3 project from the requirements of Section 4(f) and that the approval
of the final EIS was the only obligation left.
- After Section 114’s
enactment, the appellees conducted a third EIS in accordance with 23
C.F.R. 771.129(c)(2), requiring a reevaluation when major steps to
advance a project have not occurred within three years after the
approval of a final EIS. A draft
of the third EIS was made available to the public, and the FHA Division
Administrator approved the construction work pending the completion of
the third EIS. The appellees
filed a motion to dismiss this action on the basis that the 1982 SEIS
satisfied the requirements of NEPA and the district court’s 1982
decision. The appellees further
argued that all other issues remaining in litigation were void after the
passage of Section 114. The
district court granted appellees motion to dismiss because the adequacy
of the final SEIS (1982) had been determined by the court and “the
formal reevaluation and subsequent preparation of the Third SEIS does
not change the status of the Final EIS approved in 1982.” The district court concluded that
since the passage of Section 114 rendered all other issues moot, there
was no basis to prevent construction of H-3. The Court of Appeals AFFIRMED the district court’s ruling
that the adequacy of the 1982 SEIS was never challenged by the
appellants, and therefore properly concluded that the 1982 EIS was
“final” and “adequate.”
appellants argue that exempting H-3 from the requirements of Section
4(f) exceeds Congress’ power under the Spending Clause of the
Constitution. They claim Section
114 violates the Constitution because the clause only allows for
expenditures for “national” purposes and the H-3 project is a local
purpose. The Court held that H-3
serves a national purpose because it functions as an important defense
utility since it is designed in part to connect the military bases on
the island. Furthermore,
Congress declared prompt completion of the entire Interstate System as a
matter of national importance whether or not the highways were between
states or within them. The Court
concluded that since Congress’ statement in Section 101(b) of the
Federal-Aid Highways Act distinctly shows the completion of highways as
a national importance, any spending to implement Section 114 will
promote the general welfare.
appellants also argued that Section 114 violates the Equal Protection
Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
They claimed that legislation that may allegedly harm the
environment should be subjected to heightened judicial scrutiny because
the right to a healthy environment is an important individual right.
When Congress enacted Section 114, it discriminated against an
individual right of the citizens of Hawai‘i. The appellants argued that Section 114 violates the
Constitution even using a minimum scrutiny standard because it created
an arbitrary classification by denying residents of Hawai‘i the
environmental protections provided by the Section 4(f) statute. However, the district court rejected
that argument because no court has yet to find a fundamental right to a
healthy environment (therefore the heightened judicial scrutiny of
Section 114 was inappropriate).
The district court also determined that Congress had a rational
basis to enact Section 114 on account of the time delays and rising
costs of the project.
- The Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals AFFIRMED the district court’s decision in regards to
the Equal Protection Clause.
While the appellants maintained that Congress singled out Hawai‘i
and its citizens for “unique and onerous” treatment by enacting Section
114, the court pointed out that section does not single out Hawai‘i from
the other 49 states. Section 114
applied only to the H-3 project and not to all federal highway
Section 114 does not affect the state as a whole because it does not
affect many of the residents on the other islands, and even some of the
residents on Oahu do not feel its effects. In addition, the court noted that all United States
citizens who use and enjoy Hawai‘i’s environment are affected no matter
what state they may reside in.
Therefore, depicting citizens of Hawai‘i as a disadvantaged class
of people for the purposes of Equal Protection analysis is improper. The
Court also mentioned that the appellants failed to show that Congress
was motivated by discriminatory animus against Hawai‘i or its citizens
when it enacted Section 114.
Instead, the enactment of Section 114 does not violate the
appellants’ Equal Protection rights because it is substantially related
to the achievement of important governmental purposes.
- The appellants
contended that Congress overstepped its bounds by enacting Section 114
because the authority to execute laws belongs to the Executive
Branch. They claim that the
enactment of Section 114 took away the Secretary’s control over the execution
of the 4(f) statute because it ordered the Secretary to approve the H-3
project. They also claimed that
the enactment of Section 114 amounted to performance of a judicial
function, but this claim was dismissed because Congress did not strip
the Court of its jurisdiction over Section 4(f) compliance cases,
instead it made Section 4(f) irrelevant to the case at hand. The Court held that enacting
legislation to exempt a project from statutory requirement was not an
“execution” of law because it does not interpret Section 4(f), it only
exempts H-3 from the statute.
Therefore the court AFFIRMED the ruling by the district court and
removed the injunction.