Babbitt v. Sweet Home Chapter, Communities for Great Ore., 515 U.S. 687, 9 (1995)

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Cite as: 515 U. S. 687 (1995)

Opinion of the Court

fication. Most prominently, the court performed a lengthy analysis of the 1982 amendment to 10 that provided for "incidental take permits" and concluded that the amendment did not change the meaning of the term "take" as defined in the 1973 statute.8

Chief Judge Mikva, who had announced the panel's original decision, dissented. See 17 F. 3d, at 1473. In his view, a proper application of Chevron indicated that the Secretary had reasonably defined "harm," because respondents had failed to show that Congress unambiguously manifested its intent to exclude habitat modification from the ambit of "take." Chief Judge Mikva found the majority's reliance on noscitur a sociis inappropriate in light of the statutory language and unnecessary in light of the strong support in the legislative history for the Secretary's interpretation. He did not find the 1982 "incidental take permit" amendment alone sufficient to vindicate the Secretary's definition of "harm," but he believed the amendment provided additional support for that definition because it reflected Congress' view in 1982 that the definition was reasonable.

The Court of Appeals' decision created a square conflict with a 1988 decision of the Ninth Circuit that had upheld the Secretary's definition of "harm." See Palila v. Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources, 852 F. 2d 1106 (1988) (Palila II). The Court of Appeals neither cited nor distinguished Palila II, despite the stark contrast between the Ninth Circuit's holding and its own. We granted certiorari to resolve the conflict. 513 U. S. 1072 (1995). Our consideration of the text and structure of the Act, its legislative history, and the significance of the 1982 amendment persuades us that the Court of Appeals' judgment should be reversed.

8 The 1982 amendment had formed the basis on which the author of the majority's opinion on rehearing originally voted to affirm the judgment of the District Court. Compare 1 F. 3d 1, 11 (CADC 1993) (Williams, J., concurring in part), with 17 F. 3d, at 1467-1472.

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