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NATIONAL FEDN. OF FED. EMPLES. v. UNITED STATES

December 18, 1989

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES and ROESSLER CONSTRUCTION CO., INC., Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and RICHARD CHENEY, Secretary of Defense, Defendants


Stanley Sporkin, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPORKIN

STANLEY SPORKIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 This matter is before the Court on defendants' Motion to Dismiss. *fn1" Plaintiffs in this case seek a declaratory judgment that the 1988 Base Closure and Realignment Act, enacted by Congress on October 24, 1988, is unconstitutional. After having reviewed the briefs submitted by the parties and after hearing oral argument from counsel, this Court is prepared to rule on defendants' motion.

 I. Background

 On May 3, 1988, then-Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci chartered the Commission on Base Realignment and Closure, pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. Appendix II. The Commission's stipulated responsibility was to "study the issues surrounding military base realignment and closure within the United States, it's commonwealths, territories, and possessions." Charter § 2, Report of Defense Secretaries Commission, App. A. The Commission was composed of twelve members each of whom were appointed or designated by the Secretary of Defense. Charter § 1. *fn2" The Charter expressly directed the Commission to consider at least nine specific criteria in making its recommendations: 1) current and future mission requirements and the impact on military operational readiness; 2) availability and condition of land and facilities at both existing and potential receiving locations; 3) potential to accommodate contingency, mobilization, and future force requirements at receiving locations; 4) cost and manpower implications; 5) extent and timing of potential cost savings; 6) economic impact on the base area community; 7) community support at the receiving locations; 8) environmental impact; and 9) the implementation process involved. Charter, § 2.

 After undertaking this responsibility, the Commission recommended that 86 installations be fully closed, that five be partially closed, and that 54 other bases experience either an increase or decrease of activity because of relocation. It is projected that the implementation of these recommendations will result in annual savings of $ 693.6 million and total projected savings of $ 5.6 billion over the next twenty years.

 Plaintiff National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) is an independent labor union which represents nearly 150,00 federal workers, and approximately 85,000 Department of Defense civilian workers. About 5000 of these workers are employed on military bases subject to closure or realignment pursuant to the Base Closure Act. NFFE and its affiliated locals serve as the exclusive bargaining representative for these federal workers pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, Pub.L. No. 95-454, 5 U.S.C. § 7101 et seq.

 Plaintiff Roessler Construction Co., Inc. (Roessler) is a private corporation doing business in Rantoul, Illinois. Over the past several years, Roessler has done extensive construction work for Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul. Chanute is one of the bases that is scheduled for closure under the Closure Act. Roessler asserts that approximately 80% of its business during the past few years has been derived from Chanute contracts.

 Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that the Closure Act is unconstitutional. Count I alleges that the Closure Act violates the Constitution because it improperly delegates legislative authority to the Secretary of Defense and the Commission by allowing them to regulate the disposition of government property. It is plaintiffs' position that Article 4, Section 3, Clause 2 of the Constitution requires that Congress retain the power to dispose of any property belonging to the United States. Count II also raises an improper delegation claim. Plaintiffs assert that Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution mandates that Congress retain the power to provide for the common defense of the United States. Count III challenges the provision in the Closure Act that allows Congress through the passage of a Joint Resolution to reject the recommendation of the Secretary and the Commission. Count IV seeks to have this Court review the findings of the Commission and the Secretary and declare them to have been "arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law" under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 706.

 The remedy sought by plaintiffs is a permanent injunction which would prohibit the Secretary of Defense from closing or realigning any of the 86 bases that are scheduled to be closed or realigned pursuant to the Closure Act.

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. Standing

 Initially, this Court must address the defendants' challenge to the plaintiffs ability to maintain this suit. It is defendants' position that the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the Closure Act. If defendants are correct, this Court need not address the merits of plaintiffs' claims.

 Standing is a complicated and ambiguous legal concept. As the Supreme Court has noted, "Generalizations about standing to sue are largely worthless as such." Association of Data Processing Service Organizations, Inc. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 151, 25 L. Ed. 2d 184, 90 S. Ct. 827 (1970) (hereinafter, ADAPSO). However, it is clear that in the federal courts the question of standing takes on constitutional dimensions. Article III of the Constitution expressly limits the "judicial power" of the United States to the resolution of "cases" or "controversies." "The judicial power of the United States defined by Art. III is not an unconditioned authority to determine the constitutionality of legislative or executive acts." Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, 454 U.S. 464, 471, 70 L. Ed. 2d 700, 102 S. Ct. 752 (1982).

 The central issue regarding standing is whether a particular litigant is entitled to have the court decide the merits of a dispute. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498, 45 L. Ed. 2d 343, 95 S. Ct. 2197 (1975). To establish standing, a litigant must satisfy the constitutional requirements of Article III and the prudential considerations that have been developed by the Courts. Valley Forge, 454 U.S. at 471. *fn3" The aim of these constitutional requirements is to ensure that a litigant has an ...


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