Sierra Club V. Morton Analysis

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To this day, a war rages on between environmentalists and those who seek to profit from developing on areas of wilderness. One notorious battle in that war was the case of Sierra Club v. Morton. In that court case, the Walt Disney Company sought to build a ski resort on a glacial valley in California known as Mineral King Valley. Sierra argued that the result of the development proposal would be “irreparable harm to the public interest”. As the plaintiffs did not establish how human beings would be harmed by Disney’s proposed development, economically or otherwise, they lost the case. Nevertheless, Justice Douglas put forward a famous dissent which argues that trees should be extended standing to sue in court. I believe that inanimate objects …show more content…

Morton). Therefore, humans would act as the spokesmen of nature. Instead of solely arguing the impact of development on humans in court, the impact on the landscape could be argued as well. In fact, Douglas argues that the case should be renamed to Mineral King v. Morton, granting nature a say. Douglas furthermore notes that inanimate objects other than wilderness already have standing, arguing that it is not unusual for non-human entities such as ships or a corporation sole to be parties in …show more content…

One pertinent example of this is through the action of activist Julia Butterfly Hill, who lived in a tree for just over two years to prevent a logging company from cutting it down. Known as Luna, the tree remains standing to this day thanks to Hill’s activism. There is no doubt that the tree would have been torn down without a human being willing to step up. If Luna were to be granted legal standing, activists like Julia Hill would not be required to engage in the civil disobedience of sitting in a tree for two years in order to prevent its destruction. Rather, she would only need to argue for its preservation in court as a human representative of the tree. The Deep Green Resistance concurs with Douglas that inanimate objects should have legal rights. In a lawsuit of their own, the organization seeks legal recognition for the Colorado River in order to let said river sue for its protection. As written in the New York Times, “If a corporation has rights, the authors argue, so, too, should an ancient waterway that has sustained human life for as long as it has existed in the Western United States. The lawsuit claims the state violated the river’s right to flourish by polluting and draining it and threatening endangered species.”

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