474 U.S. 931 (1985)

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U.S. Supreme Court

NORTH SIDE LUMBER CO. v. BLOCK , 474 U.S. 931 (1985)

474 U.S. 931

John R. BLOCK, Secretary of Agriculture, et al.
No. 85-59

Supreme Court of the United States

October 21, 1985

On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice WHITE, dissenting.

This is a suit brought in Federal District Court by various lumber companies who had contracted to purchase timber from the United States. The plaintiffs-petitioners here-seek both a declaratory judgment to the effect that the contracts are void as a matter of federal common law and an injunction restraining the United States from enforcing them. The District Court granted preliminary injunctive relief, but the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that the District Court lacked jurisdiction over petitioners' underlying claim for declaratory

Page 474 U.S. 931 , 932

relief. Although conceding that such a suit arose under federal law for purposes of 28 U.S.C. 1331, the court concluded that the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1346 and 1491, impliedly barred the relief sought. The court reasoned that the Tucker Act, under which declaratory relief is not available, see Richardson v. Morris, 409 U.S. 464d 647 (1973), defined the extent of the United States' waiver of sovereign immunity against the types of claims for which the Tucker Act authorizes monetary relief. [Footnote 1] Because, in the view of the Court of Appeals, the suit to void the contracts was a "claim against the United States . . . founded . . . upon [an] express or implied contract," 28 U.S.C. 1346(a)( 2), the relief available was governed by the Tucker Act, and declaratory relief was therefore unavailable.

My doubts about the correctness of this ruling and its consistency with the decision of another Court of Appeals lead me to believe that review of the Ninth Circuit's conclusion in this Court is warranted. Even accepting the Court of Appeals' view that the Tucker Act impliedly bars declaratory and injunctive relief in all cases in which assertion of a claim of damages would require invocation of the Tucker Act,2 the Court of Appeals' conclusion that [474 U.S. 931 , 933]

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