Thursday, July 02, 2020

American Wild Horse Campaign v. Bernhardt (9th Cir. - July 2, 2020)

A lot of times I just entirely skip over the "Summary" prepared by staff that appears at the outset of Ninth Circuit opinions.  (I'm not talking about the actual opinion; I'm talking about the stuff before the opinion itself.)  I'm going to read the entire actual opinion anyway.  No reason to unnecessarily add to the burden by also reading the (often duplicative summary).

Plus I often like the suspense of not knowing how the thing is going to come out.

But in today's opinion, I definitely read the Summary.  Okay, not the actual summary, but at least its title.  Because in big, bold letters, it reads:

Wild Horses

Now, maybe there's a previous Ninth Circuit opinion whose summary begins "Wild Horses" . . . but I doubt it.  It's not like "Civil Procedure" or "ERISA."  There are various particular areas of legal doctrine and/or law practice, but I'm pretty sure that "Wild Horses" isn't one of them.  I've yet to meet a lawyer in a bar, ask her what she does for a living, and have her respond:  "Oh, I practice Wild Horses law."

(Though I admit that'd be a cool thing to be able to say.  Sort of like "I practice Maritime Law" but more hip by a factor of four.)

Plus, it made me think of the Stones song.  With Mick saying the choral lyric with that long, long pause.  "Wild horses . . . couldn't drag me away."  Maybe that's what the court staff was also secretly thinking when they titled the summary that way.  Gotta do something to make the job fun once in a while.

On the substance, it turns out that in the American West, it's neat to have lots of wild horses running around.  Dramatic.  Majestic.  Wildlife.  Like the old days.

But, apparently, in the desolate plains of Northeastern Nevada there are . . . too many wild horses.  "Wild, wild horses."  So guess what the Bureau of Land Management does?

Gives birth control pills to the mares and gelds the males.  At least an appreciable fraction of them.

Plaintiff doesn't like that.  So sues.  It's a public interest organization, so it could call itself anything it wants.  It chooses "American Wild Horse Campaign."  If it were my group, I'd probably instead call it "Citizens for Free Horse Love," or "Keep Your Hands Off Horse Penises."  Something like that.  But they opt for the somewhat less controversial title.  Understandably.

Though it doesn't help 'em.  They still lose.  Some wild horses are good.  Tons of wild horses are not.  The BLM's decision isn't arbitrary or capricious.  Regulation affirmed.