Alyeska Pipeline Service Company v. Wilderness Society

PETITIONER: Alyeska Pipeline Service Company
RESPONDENT: Wilderness Society
LOCATION: Superior Court of Los Angeles County, CA

DOCKET NO.: 73-1977
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 421 US 240 (1975)
ARGUED: Jan 22, 1975
DECIDED: May 12, 1975

ADVOCATES:
Dennis M. Flannery - for respondents
Dennis J. Flannery -
Robert E. Jordan, III - for petitioner

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Alyeska Pipeline Service Company v. Wilderness Society

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 22, 1975 in Alyeska Pipeline Service Company v. Wilderness Society

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - May 12, 1975 in Alyeska Pipeline Service Company v. Wilderness Society

Byron R. White:

In the Alyeska case, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that if -- that the appellees -- or respondents, Wilderness Society and others were entitled to attorney's fees for at least partially prevailing in an action which they brought charging that the award of a right of way for a pipeline was invalid under the relevant federal statutes providing for rights of way and under the Environmental Protection Act.

Neither Act provides for the award of attorney's fee but the Court of Appeals held that the courts had the authority to award fees since they had in the Court's view acted as private attorneys general in enforcing important federal statutes.

We reverse.

The award of attorney's fees in context such as these is a matter for Congress and not for the courts and the Court of Appeals had no authority to order otherwise.

The judgment is reversed.

Mr. Justice Brennan has filed a dissenting opinion as had Mr. Justice Marshall.

Justices Douglas and Powell took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice White.