Brief Fact Summary. The Sierra Club challenged the lawfulness of a federal land and resource plan adopted by the United States Forest Service on the ground that it permitted too much logging and clearing for Ohio’s Wayne National Forest.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The considerations for ripeness are: 1] whether delayed review would cause hardship to the plaintiffs; 2] whether judicial intervention would inappropriately interfere with further administrative action; and 3] whether the courts would benefit from further factual determination of the issues presented.
For example, no legal hardship occurs when the court does not command anyone to do anything or to refrain from doing anything grant, withhold, or modify any formal legal license, power, or authority; subject anyone to any civil or criminal liability, or create legal rights or obligations.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Did the dispute about the Plan create a then justiciable controversy, and if so, did the Plan conform to the statutory and regulatory requirements for a forest plan?
Held. The suit was not ripe for review. To withhold judicial consideration at that stage would not cause the parties “significant hardship,” as the Plan did not even confer the right to cut any trees. From the agency’s perspective, judicial review at that stage would hinder its ability to refine its policies through revision of the Plan or application of the Plan in practice. Review of Sierra Club’s claims at that stage would have required time- consuming judicial consideration of the details of an elaborate plan, without the benefit that a particular logging proposal could provide. Congress did not provide for pre-implementation judicial review of forest plans. Dissent. None. Concurrence. None.
Discussion. The type of review sought by the Sierra Club in this case threatened the kind of abstract disagreements over administrative policies that the ripeness doctrine seeks to avoid.