The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF; merit briefs] Tuesday in Monsanto Company v. Geertson Seed Farms [oral arguments transcript, PDF; JURIST report] on what conditions must be met to obtain a nationwide injunction prohibiting the planting of genetically engineered crops. The case arose over an injunction against the planting of Monsanto's "Roundup Ready alfalfa," pending an environmental impact statement. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held [opinion, PDF] that National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) [EPA materials] plaintiffs are specially exempt from the requirement of showing a likelihood of irreparable harm to obtain an injunction, affirming the nationwide injunction. Counsel for the petitioners argued that the district court, "short-circuited the requisite inquiry into the likelihood of reparable - irreparable harm, because they reasoned that the agency was going to get into this anyway in the course of preparing its environmental impact statement." Counsel for respondents argued:
In our view Petitioners lack standing to bring this case to this Court. By failing to challenge the lawfulness of the deregulation vacatur either in the Ninth Circuit or in this Court, Petitioners have an insurmountable redressability problem. They cannot get the practical relief they seek even in the event that this Court vacates or narrows the injunction.The case is being closely followed by environmental and industry groups.