Tribal Governments Should Be Entitled to Special Solicitude: The Overarching Sentiment of the Parens Patriae Doctrine

Hae-June Ahn
May 2010
Ecology Law Quarterly;2010, Vol. 37 Issue 2, p625
Academic Journal
The parens patriae doctrine provides an alternative route for a state to establish standing when it seeks to protect its quasi-sovereign interests. Parens patriae suits are particularly appropriate for environmental cases where the injury is inflicted on the general population and individuals bringing separate suits cannot obtain the proper relief. This doctrine inherently recognizes a state's entitlement to "special solicitude," a concept articulated by the Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA. This Note argues that tribal governments should also be entitled to special solicitude when seeking to protect their quasi-sovereign interests. This need is particularly pressing in environmental cases, because Native Americans are uniquely vulnerable to environmental issues such as climate change. Like states, tribal governments should also be permitted to bring parens patriae suits against the federal government, because they are often preempted by federal regulation and the only recourse is to sue the relevant federal agency.


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