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Babbitt v Sweet Home Chapters of Oregon: The Law and Economics of Habitat Preservation

Richard A. Epstein
Supreme Court Economic Review
Vol. 5 (1997), pp. 1-57
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1147094
Page Count: 57
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Babbitt v Sweet Home Chapters of Oregon: The Law and Economics of Habitat Preservation
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Abstract

In Babbitt v Sweet Home Chapter the Supreme Court reviewed a regulation that treated the destruction or modification of an endangered species' habitat as a "taking" of that species under the Endangered Species Act. The Justices treated the issue as a simple question of legal pedigree: did the regulator act pursuant to his statutory authority in promulgating the challenged regulation? This article shows that the Court answered this question without an adequate understanding of the statute's underlying policy and without sufficient respect for constitutional considerations. A detailed analysis of these issues shows that the Court's decision to uphold the regulation was incorrect.

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