ANDRUS V. ALLARD, 444 U. S. 51 (1979)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Andrus v. Allard, 444 U.S. 51 (1979)

Andrus v. Allard

No. 78-740

Argued October 1, 1979

Decided November 27, 1979

444 U.S. 51


The Eagle Protection Act makes it unlawful to "take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import" bald or golden eagles or any part thereof, with the proviso that the prohibition does not apply to "possession or transportation" of such eagles or parts thereof taken prior to the effective date of the Act. Similarly, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it unlawful to engage in such activities with respect to migratory birds and their parts unless they are permitted by regulations promulgated under the Act. Appellant Secretary of the Interior promulgated regulations prohibiting commercial transactions in parts of birds legally killed before they came under the protection of these Acts. After two of the appellees who had sold "preexisting" Indian artifacts partly composed of feathers of currently protected birds were prosecuted for violations of both Acts, appellees, who are engaged in the trade of such artifacts, brought suit in District Court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the Acts do not forbid the sale of appellees' artifacts insofar as the constituent bird parts were obtained prior to the effective dates of the Acts, and that, if the Acts and regulations do apply to such property, they violate the Fifth Amendment. The District Court granted the relief sought, holding that the Acts were to be interpreted as not applicable to preexisting, legally obtained bird parts, and that therefore the regulations were void as unauthorized extensions of the Acts, and were violative of appellees' Fifth Amendment property rights.


1. Both Acts contemplate regulatory prohibition of commerce in the parts of protected birds, without regard to when those birds were originally taken. Pp. 444 U. S. 55-64.

(a) In view of the exhaustive and careful enumeration of forbidden acts in the Eagle Protection Act, the narrow limitation of the proviso to "possession or transportation" compels the conclusion that, with respect to preexisting artifacts, Congress specifically declined to except any activities other than possession and transportation from the general ban. The legislative history shows that this precise use of terminology

Page 444 U. S. 52

was intentional. Moreover, the prohibition against the sale of bird parts lawfully taken before the effective date of federal protection is fully consonant with the Act's purpose of preventing evasion of the statutory prohibitions for commercial gain. Pp. 444 U. S. 56-59.

(b) While the Migratory Bird Treaty Act contains no explicit exception for the possession or transportation of bird parts obtained before the federal protection became effective, nevertheless the text, context, and purpose of that Act support the Secretary's interpretative regulations. There is nothing in the Act that requires an exception for the sale of preexisting artifacts, and no such statutory exception can be implied. The Act's structure and context also suggest congressional understanding that regulatory authorities could ban the sale of lawfully taken birds, except where otherwise expressly instructed by the Act. Pp. 444 U. S. 59-64.

2. The simple prohibition of the sale of lawfully acquired property does not effect a taking in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The challenged regulations do not compel the surrender of the artifacts in question, and there is no physical invasion or restraint upon them. The denial of one traditional property right does not always amount to a taking. Nor is the fact that the regulations prevent the most profitable use of appellees' property dispositive, since a reduction in the value of property is not necessarily equated with a taking. Pp. 444 U. S. 64-68.


BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J.,concurred in the judgment.

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