Huffman v. Western Nuclear, Inc.

PETITIONER: Huffman
RESPONDENT: Western Nuclear, Inc.
LOCATION: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

DOCKET NO.: 87-645
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 486 US 663 (1988)
ARGUED: Apr 27, 1988
DECIDED: Jun 15, 1988

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Huffman v. Western Nuclear, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 27, 1988 in Huffman v. Western Nuclear, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 15, 1988 in Huffman v. Western Nuclear, Inc.

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinions of the court in two cases, No. 86-805, Pinter against Dahl, and No. 87-645, Huffman versus Western Nuclear Inc. will be announced by Justice Blackmun.

Harry A. Blackmun:

We'll take up the latter case first.

A section of the Atomic Energy Act authorizes the Department of Energy to offer its services for a fee to convert natural uranium into the enriched uranium that is used for fuel and commercial reactors.

It provides that the department shall restrict its enrichment of foreign source uranium intended for use in domestic facilities, and I quote, “to the extent necessary to assure the maintenance of a viable domestic uranium industry.”

The department has determined that the domestic industry has not been viable to use a statutory word since 1983, and that the imposition of restrictions would not assure viability.

In this case, which comes to use from the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, the respondent Domestic Uranium Company sued the department in the federal court, alleging that the failure to impose restrictions was a violation of the clear words of the statute.

They move for summary judgment, and the District Court granted that motion, holding that the statute gave the department no discretion.

The Court of Appeals affirmed that judgment in relevant part.

We reverse and hold that the statute does not require the department to restrict enrichment of foreign uranium where the restriction would not achieve the statutory goal of assuring the maintenance of a viable domestic uranium industry and that decision is unanimous.