The opinion of the court was delivered by: Emmet G. Sullivan United States District Judge
Plaintiffs are two California municipalities, the City of Roseville and the City of Rocklin, and an association of citizens from these cities and the neighboring City of Lincoln. Plaintiffs oppose the Secretary of Interior's decision to take a 50-acre parcel of land into trust for the intervenor, the United Auburn Indian Community ("UAIC" or "Tribe"). The Tribe intends to build a 200,000 square foot gaming casino on the parcel, which is located in Placer County, California.
Plaintiffs sue the Secretary of Interior ("Secretary"), the Assistant Secretary of Interior, the Director of the Pacific Region of the Department of Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs ("BIA") and the United States. They raise numerous claims against the defendants, many of which suggest that the Secretary's decision to take land into trust for the UAIC unconstitutionally infringes on the sovereignty of the State of California. Yet, in essence, this case arises from the complicated process of restoring sovereignty to the Auburn Indians. In recent years, Congress has restored numerous Indian Tribes to federal recognition and, in doing so, has provided for the restoration of lands to these tribes. Thus, the difficult question posed by this case is not one focused on the limits of state sovereignty, but one stemming from the task of defining the scope of this Congressionally mandated restoration of lands to the Auburn Indians.
Pending before the Court are motions to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment filed by the United States and the Tribe, and plaintiffs' cross motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunctive relief. However, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(a)(2), and with the consent of the parties, the Court combined consideration of the motion for preliminary injunctive relief with proceedings on the merits.
The Court grants defendants' and intervenor's motions to dismiss all of plaintiffs' claims, with the exception of that claim arising under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 U.S.C. § 4332 et seq. ("NEPA"). The Court considers plaintiffs' NEPA claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 and enters summary judgment for the United States and the Tribe, and against plaintiffs, on this claim.
In the early 1900s, the United States government acknowledged the existence of a small Indian village located on the outskirts of the City of Auburn, California. The Auburn Band of Indians, at that point, constituted a small community of California Indians who survived the depredations of the 19th century. See S. Rep. No. 103-340 (1994). The Band resided outside the City of Auburn, about forty miles northeast of Sacramento. Id. The Band's members were drawn from Indian Tribes whose aboriginal territories reached both north and south of Auburn. Id.
In 1917, the United States took approximately twenty acres of land into trust for the Auburn Band, and, in 1953, it took another twenty acres in trust for the Tribe. These forty acres became known as the Auburn Indian Rancheria. Id.
In the 1950s and 1960s, federal trust responsibilities for 41 "rancherias" were terminated. Id. The Auburn Rancheria was terminated on August 11, 1967, pursuant to the terms of the Rancheria Act of 1958. Id. The Rancheria's assets were distributed among its residents and its lands allotted to them. Id.
In July 1991, descendants of the Rancheria's residents formed an organization called United Auburn Indian Community of California (hereinafter "UAIC"). Id. After unsuccessfully applying for formal recognition with the BIA, the group was recognized by Congress pursuant to the Auburn Indian Restoration Act in 1994. See 25 U.S.C. § 1300l(a)-(b). The Act restored rights and privileges of the Tribe and its members, and extended to the UAIC and its members the status of a recognized Indian Tribe. Id. The Act requires the Secretary of the Interior to consult with the Tribe in order to "establish a plan for economic development for the Tribe." Id. § 1300l-1(a)(1). The Act also permits the Secretary to accept certain real property in trust for the benefit of the Tribe. Id. § 1300l-2.
Ninety percent of the Tribe's 247 members live within ten miles of the old Rancheria, and some fifty members still live on individual fee lands within the Rancheria's boundaries. Decl. of Jessica Tavares in Support of Tribe's Mot. to Intervene, ¶ 4. Jessica Tavares, the Chairperson of the UAIC, recounts conditions of "grinding poverty," in which many of the Tribe's members live. Id.; see also S. Rep. No. 103-240.
B. Proposal to Develop Gaming Facility
In 1997, the UAIC entered into a "collaborative process" with Placer County to locate and develop a site that would be appropriate for Class III gaming. A.R. 1869 (letter from Placer County to the BIA) (May 16, 2000)). After considering various alternatives, the parties settled on a 49.21-acre parcel in an unincorporated portion of the County called the Sunset Industrial Area. A.R. 332 (EA). This parcel is currently vacant and is zoned as "Industrial Park-Design Corridor." Id. The parcel is bounded on three sides by the cities of Roseville, Rocklin and Lincoln, suburbs of Sacramento, California. The parcel is approximately forty miles away from the boundaries of the former Auburn Rancheria.
The Tribe proposed to develop a 200,000 square foot gaming and entertainment facility on the parcel. The facility would include a bingo area, a casino floor with video gaming and card tables, restaurants, bars, an entertainment lounge, and 3,500 on-site parking spaces. A.R. 323. The facility is expected to draw 8,000 visitors a day and to employ approximately 1,100 people. Id.
In October 1999, the Tribe entered into a gaming compact with the State of California. A.R. 680-740. The compact permits the Tribe to conduct Class III gaming and requires the Tribe to contribute to the State Revenue Sharing Trust Fund, which assists "non-Compact" Indian Tribes, addresses gambling addiction, and supports state and local agencies affected by tribal gaming. Id. *fn1
The Tribe's negotiations with Placer County culminated in a January 18, 2000, Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU"), in which the County agreed to support the Tribe's application to the Secretary of Interior. The Tribe agreed, among other things, to work within the general and community plans, zoning ordinances and design guidelines that would have applied to a private development, to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, to reimburse the County for use of public services, and to pay traffic mitigation and improvement fees. A.R. 820-44. A California Superior Court vacated this MOU pending compliance with environmental review procedures under the California Environmental Quality Act. A.R. 200053-63. However, the court subsequently commented that the defect was "technical," and that the MOU was likely the "best environmental alternative." Diamond Creek Partners, Ltd. v. City of Lincoln, No. SCV 10659, Order Denying Motion for Award of Attorneys' Fees and Costs (Cal. Super. Ct. Mar. 11, 2002).
On June 25, 1998, the Tribe filed its initial application asking the Secretary to take the parcel into trust so that it could proceed with its plans to develop a casino. The mechanism for seeking approval from the Secretary of Interior is known as a "fee-to-trust" application. Here, the Secretary seeks to take the parcel into trust pursuant to the Auburn Indian Restoration Act, 25 U.S.C. § 1300l et seq. However, the Secretary processed the Tribe's fee-to-trust application pursuant to procedures established under the generally applicable provisions of the Indian Restoration Act, 25 U.S.C. § 461 et seq. See 25 C.F.R. § 151. The Tribe amended its application on October 6, 1999, and on February 22, 2000. A.R. 778.
Beginning in 1999, the Tribe, with the assistance of Environmental Sciences Associates ("ESA"), prepared an Environmental Assessment ("EA") of the fee-to-trust application. See A.R. 321-561. The EA states that the BIA "worked closely with the UAIC and ESA for approximately one year in defining the Proposed Actions, the site conditions and evaluating the potential effects" of the project. A.R. 571 (EA). In addition, Mr. David Zweig of ESA attests that the preparation of the EA took more than three years, and involved seven drafts. Intervenor's Opp'n to Mot. for Prelim. Inj., Ex. 2 ¶ 3 (Zweig decl.). He states that he worked closely with individuals from the BIA, including William Allan, the Pacific Region Environmental Protection Specialist for the BIA. Id. ¶ 4. The EA for the proposed casino project was released in June 2000, and 25 comments were received in response to it. The BIA published and, together with the UAIC, responded to public comments. See A.R. 4564-93.
The BIA adopted the EA prepared by the Tribe and, on June 21, 2000, circulated it to interested parties for comment. In response to concerns raised by various parties, including plaintiffs, the Tribe worked with Placer County to modify the project in order to mitigate the alleged human, environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the proposal. A.R. 4564-93 (Response to Comments). On January 19, 2001 , the BIA issued a Finding of No Significant Impact ("FONSI"), concluding that the proposal would have no significant unmitigated environmental impacts. A.R. 310-17; see 40 C.F.R. § 1508.13.
On November 28, 2000, the BIA Pacific Regional Office sent notice of the land acquisition application to the State, local governments, surrounding communities, organizations, and concerned individuals seeking comments regarding the potential impact on local tax rolls, governmental services and zoning laws if the application were approved. A.R. 1268-77. After considering responses to this notice, the Regional Office concluded in February 2001 that the Tribe's voluntary contributions to surrounding communities substantially off-set any loss in real property taxes generated from the property, that the other requirements of 25 C.F.R. Pt. 151 had been met, and that the Tribe's application should be granted. A.R. 259, 264; see also A.R. 44 (OIGM Mem. (Feb. 5, 2002)).
The Regional Office's recommendation was forwarded to the Office of Indian Gaming Management ("OIGM"), which conducted its own independent review of the proposal, the FONSI and the comments on the application. A.R. 39-50. Two of the documents considered by the OIGM were memoranda, wherein the Interior Department's Associate Solicitor for Indian Affairs concluded that the Tribe's application fell within the "restored lands" exception of Section 20 of IGRA, 25 U.S.C. § 2719(b)(1)(B)(iii). A.R. 74-76 (2002 Op.); A.R. 997-1000 (2000 Op.). OIGM concluded that, in light of the Tribe's lack of a land base, there was a clear need "to generate resources that will enable the Tribe to make its own decisions regarding the future," and that the proposed acquisition, a prerequisite to the Tribe's operation of a Class III gaming facility under IGRA, would "facilitate tribal self-determination and economic development." A.R. 42 (OIGM Mem.).
On February 5, 2002, the OIGM recommended that the Secretary take the land into trust for the Tribe. A.R. 50. The Department of Interior's regulations, 25 C.F.R. § 151.12(b), provide that the Secretary must publish notice of a decision to take land into trust in the Federal Register or in a newspaper serving the affected area, and withhold action for at least 30 days after the notice is published. On February 5, 2002, the Secretary adopted the OIGM recommendation, finding that all applicable laws and regulations had been complied with, and authorized the Regional Director to take the land into trust thirty days after the publication in the Federal Register of a Notice of the Final Agency Determination. A.R. 37-38; 25 C.F.R. § 151.12(b). The requisite notice was published in the Federal Register on March 15, 2002, and authorized the taking of land into trust for the UAIC on April 15, 2002. 67 Fed. Reg. 11,706. However, the Secretary extended that deadline until April 25, 2002, and, later, until July 9, 2002.
Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit on April 3, 2002, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. On June 6, 2002, the UAIC filed a motion to intervene, which was granted on July 8, 2002.
The United States intended to accept title to the land on July 9, unless enjoined from doing so. The plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on June 20, 2002, and, on June 27, 2002, the Court ordered additional briefing on plaintiffs' motion and scheduled a hearing on the motion for July 8, 2002. The July 9, 2002 deadline was set by the United States at the request of the UAIC, which contends that it may lose rights to purchase gaming licenses from the State of California if the Tribe does not imminently begin construction of the casino.
At a July 8, 2002 hearing, the United States, with the consent of the Tribe, agreed to delay taking the land into trust until the beginning of September. This agreement permitted the Court to provide the parties with one decision on the merits, as opposed to ruling on the motion for a preliminary injunction, and later deciding the motions for summary judgment. Accordingly, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(a)(2), and without objection from any party, the Court consolidated plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunctive relief with proceedings on the merits.
Prior to the July 8, 2002 hearing, both the UAIC and the United States had filed motions to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Following the July 8, 2002 hearing, plaintiffs filed a motion to consider their opposition to these motions as their cross motion for summary judgment. The Court granted this motion.
At the July 8, 2002 hearing, plaintiffs indicated that they had objections to the administrative record filed by the government in support of its decision to take the parcel into trust. The Court set a briefing schedule for the parties to formally lodge objections to the administrative record. However, the parties resolved their dispute regarding the administrative record and, pursuant to an appropriate protective order, plaintiffs have been permitted to review documents previously withheld from the record. Accordingly, the Court denies as moot plaintiffs' motion to compel disclosure, which was filed on July 12, 2002, prior to the entry of the stipulated protective order on July 19, 2002.
The United States and the UAIC have filed motions to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. The Court has also granted plaintiffs' motion to treat their opposition memorandum as a cross motion for summary judgment.
The issues raised by the motions to dismiss with respect to all of plaintiffs' claims other than their NEPA claim are questions of law that may be decided without resort to an administrative record. Accordingly, the Court treats the parties' filings as cross motions for summary judgment on plaintiffs' NEPA claim only, and as motions to dismiss and an opposition memorandum to these motions for purposes of plaintiffs' remaining claims.
The Court will not grant a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957); Kowal v. MCI Communications Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994). Accordingly, upon consideration of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the Court accepts as true all of the complaint's factual allegations. Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73, 104 S. Ct. 2229 (1984); accord Does v. United States Dep't of Justice, 753 F.2d 1092, 1102 (D.C. Cir. 1985). Plaintiff is entitled to "the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged." Kowal, 16 F.3d at 1276. However, the movant is entitled to judgment if there are no allegations in the complaint which, even if proven would provide a basis for recovery. Haynesworth v. Miller, 820 F.2d 1245, 1254 (1987).
Summary judgment should be granted pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 only if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). In ruling upon cross-motions for summary judgment, the Court shall grant summary judgment only if one of the moving parties is entitled to judgment as a matter of law upon material facts that are not genuinely disputed. See Rhoads v. McFerran, 517 F.2d 66, 67 (2d Cir. 1975).
Plaintiffs allege that the Secretary's decision to take the 50-acre parcel into trust violates Section 20 of IGRA, NEPA and several provisions of the United States Constitution, as well as the Equal Footing Doctrine and the California Organic Act. Plaintiffs' complaint also alleges that the Auburn Indian Restoration Act is an unconstitutional delegation of Congressional power, and challenges IGRA and the Tribal-State Compact between UAIC and the State of California as unconstitutional. Plaintiffs, however, failed to defend their constitutional challenges to IGRA and the Tribal-State Compact. Accordingly, the Court treats these claims as conceded.
While the Court finds that plaintiffs' constitutional claims, with the exception of the excessive delegation claim, have little, if any, basis in law, the question of plaintiffs' standing to assert those claims presents a complex jurisdictional prerequisite to the Court's consideration of the merits of those claims. See Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 118 S. Ct. 1003 (1998) (rejecting the notion that federal courts may assume jurisdiction for the purpose of deciding the merits of a case). While plaintiffs have standing to bring their IGRA, NEPA and excessive delegation claims, the Court finds that they do not have standing to challenge the Secretary's decision to take the parcel into trust as a violation of the Enclaves Clause, the Statehood Clause, the Equal Footing Doctrine or the Tenth Amendment.
Plaintiffs' excessive delegation claim must fail because the Auburn Indian Restoration Act gives sufficient and intelligible guidance to the Secretary as to which lands may be taken into trust for the UAIC. The Court also finds that the Secretary's proposed actions do not violate Section 20 of IGRA or the requirements of NEPA.
A. Plaintiffs' Constitutional Claims
Plaintiffs bring several causes of action which, in their words, serve as "indication[s]" that the Constitution, when taken as a whole, prohibits the federal government from removing land from a state's sovereignty absent the state's consent. Tr., 8/27/02 at 49. However, these claims present novel and troublesome issues of standing. The Court is wary of reaching these standing issues where plaintiffs' underlying constitutional claims are so clearly devoid of merit. Yet, after careful consideration of binding authority, the Court has found no means of avoiding consideration of standing, a requirement that strikes at the very heart of this Court's jurisdiction to hear plaintiffs' claims.
The United States and the Tribe concede that, for purposes of a motion to dismiss, plaintiffs have alleged sufficient grounds to establish constitutional standing. However, the United States and the Tribe argue that prudential standing principles bar this Court from finding that plaintiffs have standing to raise their constitutional claims, with the exception of their claim of excessive delegation. Upon closer examination of the prudential standing doctrines implicated by plaintiffs' claims, the lines between prudential and constitutional standing concerns are not so neatly drawn. In particular, prudential factors, which counsel against permitting plaintiffs to assert "the legal rights or interests of third parties," Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 499, are "not completely separable from Art. III's requirement that a plaintiff have a 'sufficiently concrete interest in the outcome of [the] suit to make it a case or controversy.'" Secretary of State of Maryland v. Joseph H. Munson Co., Inc., 467 U.S. 947, 955 n.5, 104 S. Ct. 2839 (1984 (quoting Singleton v. Wulff, 428 U.S. 106, 112, 96 S. Ct. 2868 (1976)).
Were the Court convinced that the prudential standing and constitutional standing concerns could be easily distinguished, and that plaintiffs have constitutional standing to assert their claims, the Court might be in a position to avoid the difficult standing issues presented by this case. In Steel Company v. Citizens for a Better Environment, the Supreme Court suggested that, while "merits questions" may not be decided before "Article III questions," "merits questions" may be decided before "statutory standing questions." 523 U.S. 83, 97 n.2, 118 S. Ct. 1003 (1998). The Court raises this distinction between questions of "statutory" standing and Article III standing in the course of distinguishing its previous decision in National Railroad Passenger Corp. v. National Association of Railroad Passengers, 414 U.S. 453, 94 S. Ct. 690 (1974). There, the Court had determined whether a statutory cause of action existed before it considered whether the plaintiffs "came within the 'zone of interests' for which the cause of action was available." 523 U.S. at 97 (quoting National Railroad Pass. Corp., 414 U.S. at 465 n.13). Here, the most vexatious standing concerns are raised by the prudential standing principle limiting litigants' ability to assert third-party interests. These prudential concerns are closely tied to the constitutional standing requirement of a particularized injury, and are not properly characterized as "statutory standing questions." Accordingly, the Court is bound to address plaintiffs' standing before considering the merits of their claims.
The United States and the Tribe challenge plaintiffs' standing to assert claims under the Enclaves Clause, the Equal Footing Doctrine, the Statehood Clause and the Tenth Amendment. The essence of these four constitutional causes of action is that the State of California's sovereignty will be impinged if the Secretary of Interior is permitted to take land into trust for the UAIC. The United States and the Tribe argue that plaintiffs, a private association and two municipalities with no claim to jurisdiction over the parcel at issue, may not assert the alleged constitutional rights of the State of California under the Enclaves and Statehood Clauses, the Tenth, or the Equal Footing Doctrine. The United States and the Tribe do not challenge plaintiffs' standing to raise their claim that the Auburn Indian Restoration Act is an unconstitutional delegation of authority.
Insofar as standing is a jurisdictional prerequisite, the Court first considers plaintiffs' standing to bring their constitutional claims *fn2 and then evaluates the merits of plaintiffs' claims.
This Court's jurisdiction to consider plaintiffs' claims is limited by Article III of the United States Constitution, which requires federal courts to consider only actual "cases" and "controversies." U.S. Const., Art. III. An integral piece of this "bedrock requirement," is that a litigant have standing to raise the claims, which she seeks to have adjudicated by the court. 454 U.S. at 471. "The term 'standing' subsumes a blend of constitutional requirements and prudential considerations," which the Court must address before evaluating the merits of plaintiffs' claims. Id. "The rules of standing, whether as aspects of the Art. III case-or-controversy requirement or as reflections of prudential considerations defining and limiting the role of the courts, are threshold determinants of the propriety of judicial intervention." Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 517-18, 95 S. Ct. 2197 (1975).
An individual has constitutional standing if (1) she has suffered the "invasion of a legally protected interest which is ... concrete and particularized," and actual or imminent; (2) her injury is "fairly traceable" to the challenged action of the defendant and not the result of independent action by a third party not before the court; and (3) a favorable decision would "likely" redress the injury. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560, 112 S. Ct. 2130 (1992).
Courts have developed prudential standing rules, which act as self-imposed limits on the jurisdiction of Article III courts. The Supreme Court has articulated a "set of prudential principles that bear on the question of standing." Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church & State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 474, 102 S. Ct. 752 (1982). These include: (1) the principle that "'plaintiff generally must assert his own legal rights and interests, and cannot rest his claim to relief on the legal rights or interests of third parties,'" id. (citing Warth, 422 U.S. at 499); (2) an avoidance of "'abstract questions of wide public significance' which amount to 'generalized grievances,' pervasively shared and most appropriately addressed in the representative branches," id. at 475 (citing Warth, 422 U.S. at 499-500); and (3) a requirement "that the plaintiff's complaint fall within 'the zone of interests to be protected or regulated by the statute or constitutional guarantee in question,'" id. (citing Assoc. of Data Processing Serv. Orgs. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 153, 90 S. Ct. 827 (1970)).
Plaintiff Citizens for Safer Communities is a non-profit mutual benefit corporation incorporated in California and organized to promote policies supporting "state and family oriented community development." Compl. ¶ 16. The majority of the organization's members reside in the Cities of Lincoln, Rocklin and Roseville, California. Id. An organization has standing to sue on behalf of its members if "(a) its members would otherwise have standing to sue in their own right; (b) the interests it seeks to protect are germane to the organization's purpose; and (c) neither the claim asserted nor the relief requested requires the participation of individual members in the lawsuit." Hunt v. Washington State Apple Advertising Comm'n, 432 U.S. 333, 343, 97 S. Ct. 2434 (1977).
Two plaintiffs, the City of Roseville and the City of Rocklin, are municipalities. The D.C. Circuit has rejected the argument that a city's standing is analogous to an association's standing. See City of Olmsted Falls, Ohio v. Federal Aviation Admin., 292 F.3d 261, 267-68 (D.C. Cir. 2002). In City of Olmsted Falls, the Circuit distinguished a municipality's claim of standing from that of an organization:
The City does not have "members" who voluntarily associated, nor are the interests it seeks to assert here germane to its purpose. Rather the City is effectively attempting to assert the alleged interests of its citizens under the doctrine of parens patriae. Arguably, this theory of standing is unavailable because a state may not sue the federal government on behalf of its citizens as parens patriae. Id. at 268 (emphasis in original).
However, the Circuit further observed that a city has standing when it alleges a harm to itself as a city qua city. Id. (citing Florida Audubon Soc'y v. Bentsen, 94 F.3d 658 (D.C. Cir. 1996); City of Lafayette, La. v. SEC, 481 F.2d 1101, 1103 n.3 (D.C. Cir. 1973)). Thus, a city has standing where it "allege[s] harm to its own economic interests based on the environmental impacts of [an] approved project." Id.; cf. Town of Stratford, Connecticut v. Federal Aviation Admin., 285 F.3d 84, 89 (D.C. Cir. 2002) (finding that the Town of Stratford lacked prudential standing because it failed to show that its claimed economic injury was connected to "any environmental effects caused by the allegedly defective environmental impact statement").
Two prudential standing doctrines are implicated by plaintiffs' claims. First, plaintiffs' allegations that the Secretary's proposed conduct is unconstitutional because it will impede on the State of California's sovereignty raise concerns that plaintiffs are not asserting their own rights under the United States Constitution, but are rather asserting the rights of the State of California. Second, defendants and invervenor suggest that plaintiffs do not fall within the "zone of interests" of the constitutional provisions that plaintiffs allege are violated by the Secretary's decision to take the parcel into trust for the UAIC. Association of Data Processing Serv. Orgs., Inc. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 153, 90 S. Ct. 827 (1970).
Precedent of long-standing recognizes a "rule of self-restraint" barring litigants from claiming standing "to vindicate the constitutional rights of some third party." Barrows v. Jackson, 346 U.S. 249, 255, 73 S. Ct. 1031 (1953). A party "generally must assert his own legal rights and interests, and cannot rest his claim to relief on the legal rights or interests of third parties." Warth, 422 U.S. at 499. This is true even where a plaintiff has alleged injury sufficient to meet the "case or controversy" requirement of Article III. Duke Power Co. v. Caroline Environmental Study Group, Inc., 438 U.S. 59, 80, 98 S. Ct. 2620 (1978). That a party may indirectly benefit from asserting the rights of a third party will not suffice to confer standing. See Warth, 422 U.S. at 514 (finding no standing where plaintiffs were harmed indirectly by alleged violation of others' constitutional rights).
The rationale for this rule, as consistently articulated by the Supreme Court, is that courts should avoid adjudicating the rights of parties not before them, rights which the parties "may not wish to assert." Duke Power, 438 U.S. at 80. The prudential rule provides courts with "the assurance that the most effective advocate of the rights at issue is present to champion them." Id. at 80.
The rule also "'frees the Court not only from unnecessary pronouncement on constitutional issues, but also from premature interpretations of statutes in areas where their constitutional application might be cloudy,' ... and it assures the court that the issues before it will be concrete and sharply presented." Secretary of State of Maryland, 467 U.S. at 956 (quoting United States v. Raines, 362 U.S. 17, 22, 80 S. Ct. 519 (1960)).
The third party standing rule aids the Court in guaranteeing that plaintiffs meet Article III's requirement of a particularized injury. "The prudential limitations add to the constitutional minima a healthy concern that if the claim is brought by someone other than one at whom the constitutional protection is aimed, the claim not be an abstract, generalized grievance that the courts are neither well equipped nor well advised to adjudicate." Secretary of State of Maryland, 467 U.S. at 955 n.5.
The Supreme Court has, however, recognized some circumstances, in which the prohibition on asserting third parties' legal interests may be relaxed or disregarded altogether. In Powers v. Ohio, the Supreme Court articulated "three interrelated criteria" for permitting third-party standing: "'The litigant must have suffered an injury in fact, thus giving him or her a sufficiently concrete interest in the outcome of the issue in dispute; the litigant must have a close relation to the third party; and there must exist some hindrance to the third party's ability to protect his or her own interests.'" Miller v. Albright, 523 U.S. 420, 447, 118 S. Ct. 1428 (1998) (O'Connor, J., concurring) (quoting Powers v. Ohio, 499 U.S. 400, 411, 111 S. Ct. 1364 (1991)). This third criteria finds its roots in the decision of Singleton v. Wulff, where the Court noted that: "If there is some genuine obstacle ... the third party's absence from court loses its tendency to suggest that his right is not truly at stake, or truly important to him, and the party who is in court becomes by default the right's best available proponent." 428 U.S. at 116. Thus, the Court has permitted third party standing of litigants against whom a challenged restriction was enforced, where the enforcement also resulted in a violation of a third parties' rights. See Haitian Refugee Center v. Gracey, 809 F.2d 794 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (citing Warth, 422 U.S. at 510); see also Singleton, 428 U.S. at 113 (doctors who receive payments for their abortion services are "classically adverse" to government as payer); Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park, 396 U.S. 229, 237, 90 S. Ct. 400 (1969); Barrows v. Jackson, 346 U.S. at 255-256 (1953).
ii. "Zone of Interest" Test
The prudential standing doctrine embodied in the "zone of interest" test was first articulated in Association of Data Processing Service Organizations, Inc. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 153, 90 S. Ct. 827 (1970). Although Data Processing considered only claims brought pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), the decision announced a broad rule recognizing plaintiffs' standing to bring claims "arguably within the zone of interests to be protected or regulated by the statute or constitutional guarantee in question." Id. (emphasis added).
In Data Processing, the Court, by way of illustration, suggested that the "zone of interest" test might be satisfied by "[a] person or a family ... [with] a spiritual stake in First Amendment values sufficient to give standing to raise issues concerning the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause." Id. at 154. However, this Court has located only one instance in which the Supreme Court has applied the "zone of interest" test to a constitutional claim. See Boston Stock Exchange v. State Tax Comm'n, 429 U.S. 318, 97 S. Ct. 599 (1977). In Boston Stock Exchange, the Court applied the "zone of interest" test to regional stock exchanges and their individual members, and found that they were within the zone of interests to be protected by the Commerce Clause. Id. at 321 n.3.
Clarke v. Securities Industry Association suggests that the "zone of interest" test is less rigid in the APA context than in the context of other statutes or the Constitution. 479 U.S. 388, 400 n.16, 107 S. Ct. 750 (1987). In a lengthy footnote describing the scope and purpose of the "zone of interest" test, the Court commented on the role of the Boston Stock Exchange decision in the overall body of law interpreting the "zone of interest" test:
The principal cases in which the "zone of interest" test has been applied are those involving claims under the APA, and the test is most usefully understood as a gloss on the meaning of § 702. While inquiries into reviewability or prudential standing in other contexts may bear some resemblance to a "zone of interest" inquiry under the APA, it is not a test of universal application. Data Processing speaks of claims "arguably within the zone of interests to be protected or regulated by the statute or constitutional guarantee in question." 397 U.S. at 153, 90 S. Ct. at 829 (emphasis added). ... [We] have on one occasion conducted a "zone of interest" inquiry in a case brought under the Commerce Clause, see Boston Stock Exchange v. State Tax Comm'n, 429 U.S. 318, 320-321, n.3, 97 S. Ct. 599, 602-603, n.3, 50 L. Ed.2d 514 (1977). While the decision that there was standing in Boston Stock Exchange was undoubtedly correct, the invocation of the "zone of interest" test there should not be taken to mean that the standing inquiry under whatever constitutional or statutory provision a plaintiff asserts is the same as it would be if the "generous review provisions" of the APA apply, Data Processing, 397 U.S. at 156, 90 S. Ct. at 831. Id.
While the zone of interest test and concerns about third party standing overlap to a certain extent, each is a "distinct" "aspect of prudential standing." American Immigration Lawyers Assoc. v. Reno, 199 F.3d 1352, 1357 (D.C. Cir. 2000). The D.C. Circuit has distinguished the two principles of prudential standing by emphasizing the difference in the relevant inquiry required by these principles: "The zone of interest test looks at the nature of the claims asserted; third party standing focuses on who is asserting the claim and why the holder of the asserted right is not before the court." Id. The Circuit further recognized that, to the extent that a plaintiff is able to establish third party standing, it is likely that the third parties' interests will fall within the relevant zone of interests, and the zone of interest test will be met. Id. b. Plaintiffs' Standing
Applying these constitutional and prudential standing principles to plaintiffs' claims, the Court finds that plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged Article III standing to bring their constitutional claims. However, plaintiffs lack prudential standing to bring claims under the Enclaves Clause, the Statehood Clause, the Tenth Amendment and the Equal Footing Doctrine because their claims assert interests of the State of California, not those of plaintiffs, where there is no impediment to the State's ability to protect its own interests. Plaintiffs, however, do ...