Vol. XLI No. 2

An American Icon in Limbo: How Clarifying the Standing Doctrine Could Free Wild Horses and Empower Advocates

The American wild horse has long been considered a cultural icon and an integral part of the ecosystem.  In recognition of the need for wild horse protection, Congress enacted the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act in 1971. Although the Act instructs Congress to manage the wild horse population by removing “excess” wild horses from public lands, it does not explicitly provide for the use of short- or long-term holding facilities as a means for removal. In considering the legality of the use of holding facilities in the service of wild horse removal programs that the plaintiffs deplore, two district courts have come to opposite conclusions on the standing issue of how directly the plaintiffs’ injury must be linked to the particular action being challenged. This Note argues that if the wild horse dispute comes before the Supreme Court in the form of a circuit split, the Court should hear the case to resolve lingering ambiguities in standing causation. Specifically, the Court should apply proximate cause analysis to the standing causation inquiry, as this would promote many of standing’s underlying functions and also benefit advocates.

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