Ohio Forestry Association, Inc. v. Sierra Club
523 U.S. 726 (1998)

  • As part of the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) the US Forest Service set up a Land and Resource Management Plan for Wayne National Forest in Ohio.
    • The plan regulated how logging activities were to be conducted in the National Forest. It did not grant any logging permits, but just set rules on how permits should be granted.
  • The Sierra Club sued for an injunction, claiming that the plan would result in clear-cutting and other destructive logging activities.
  • The Trial Court dismissed the case. Sierra Club appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that the Forest Service had acted lawfully when they made the plan.
  • The Appellate Court reversed. The Forest Service appealed.
    • The Appellate Court found that the plan did favor clear-cutting and so was a violation of the NFMA.
  • The US Supreme Court reversed and dismissed the case.
    • The US Supreme Court found that there could be no judicial review unless there was a case or controversy.
      • That’s known as ripeness.
    • In this case, no permits had been issued, so there was no case or controversy. Therefore the case was not ripe for review.
      • Basically, the Sierra Club would have to wait until there was a site-specific action (like a logging company actually getting a permit for clear-cutting) before they could sue.
  • The basic idea behind the need for ripeness is that until the harm to the plaintiff is imminent (which may never actually happen), the courts don’t have enough facts to actually rule on the case.
    • There are three considerations a court should take into account to determine ripeness:
      • Whether delayed review would cause hardship to the plaintiffs,
      • Whether judicial intervention would inappropriately interfere with further administrative action,
      • Whether the courts would benefit from further factual development of the issued presented.
    • See Abbott Laboratories v. Gardner (387 U.S. 136 (1967)).