419 U.S. 802 (1974)

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U.S. Supreme Court

MINNESOTA v. RESERVE MIN. CO. , 419 U.S. 802 (1974)

419 U.S. 802

State of MINNESOTA et al.
No. A-232.

No. A-262.

Supreme Court of the United States

October 11, 1974

Applications to Vacate Stay.

The respective applications for an order vacating or modifying the stay order of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, presented to Mr. Justice BLACKMUN and by him referred to the Court, are each denied. Four Justices, however, state explicitly that these denials are without prejudice to the applicants' renewal of their applications to vacate if the litigation has not been finally decided by the Court of Appeals by January 31, 1975.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, dissenting.

I would vacate the stay issued by the Court of Appeals.

Judge Lord made detailed findings as to the health hazard of the respondent's discharges into the air and into the waters of Lake Superior, 1 findings which I attach as an Appendix to this opinion. The Court of Appeals disagreed with Judge Lord's conclusion

Page 419 U.S. 802 , 803

but it stopped short of holding that his findings were 'clearly erroneous' within the meaning of Rule 52(a) of the Rules of Civil Procedure. Even in its view, the issue, however, was close or rather neatly balanced. [Footnote 2] It therefore decided that being 'a court of law' it was 'governed by rules of proof' and that 'unknowns may not be substituted for proof of a demonstrable hazard to the public health.'3

That position, however, with all respect makes 'maximizing profits' the measure of the public good, not health of human beings or life itself. Property is, of course, protected under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment against federal intrusion. But so is life and liberty. Where the scales are so evenly divided, we cannot say that the findings on health were 'clearly erroneous' nor am I able to discover how 'maximizing profits' becomes a governing principle overriding the health hazards. If equal justice is the federal standard, we should be as alert to protect people and their rights [419 U.S. 802 , 804]

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