Citizens to Preserve Overton Park Inc. v. Volpe
By: LN on May 02, 2012 09:37:49 AM

Citation:  401 U.S. 402 (1971).

Summary:  Respondent Secretary of Transportation approved the Tennessee Department of Highway's proposal to construct the Highway through Overton park. Petitioners, private citizens to preserve Overton park, brought suit against him. Petitioner claimed that the secretary had not complied with §4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act.

Facts:  The Department of Transportation (DOT) wanted to build a highway through Overton park. The park was federal land. However, DOT Act § 4(f) required that them to show that there were no "feasible or prudent alternatives" to construction. But, respondent violated these statutes by authorizing the expenditure of federal funds for construction of a six lane interstate highway through a public park in Tennessee. Petitioners brought suit against him. Respondent introduced affidavits, which indicated that he had made decision and it was supportable. Petitioner filed counter affidavits and sought to take the deposition of a former federal highway administrator. The District Court and Court of Appeals found that formal findings by respondent were not necessary and refused to petitioners' counter affidavit. Petitioners appealed against this decision.

Issue:  Whether the trial court was correct in holding that respondent acted within the scope of his authority?

Holding:  No, trial court was not correct in holding that respondent acted within the scope of his authority.

Procedure:  Judgment of trial court was reversed and remanded by Supreme Court of United States.

Rule:  The action of "each authority of Government of the United States," which includes the Department of Transportation, is subject to judicial review except where there is a statutory prohibition on review or where "agency action is committed to agency discretion by law." (§ 701 of the Administrative procedure Act).

Rationale:  The Supreme Court found that respondent's affidavit was inadequate and his decision did not fall into Administration Procedure Act's exception for action committed to agency discretion.

Dissent:  Two judges dissented on the ground that it was their duty to remand the case to the respondent, secretary so that he can give the whole matter the hearing it deserved in full good faith obedience to the act of congress.


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