William O. Douglas: Dissent in Sierra Club v. Morton

(1972)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

If Griswold v. Connecticut is Douglas's most famous opinion, Sierra Club v. Morton is his most infamous. The U.S. Forest Service had approved the Walt Disney Corporation's plans to develop a $35-million ski resort in Mineral King Valley, California, adjacent to Sequoia National Park. The Sierra Club sued to prevent the development, and the Supreme Court ruled that the club, a “membership corporation,” lacked standing and thus could not bring the suit. The majority opinion, written by Potter Stewart, indicated, however, that a member of the club who would be injured by the development, such as losing hunting, hiking, or other recreational habitat, could bring suit. Such a suit was subsequently brought, and the development was never undertaken; Mineral King was made a part of Sequoia National Forest in 1978.

Douglas's approach was somewhat different from Stewart's. Douglas, who had strongly dissented from a decision not to hear a case...

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William O. Douglas (Library of Congress)

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