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Alyeska Pipeline Svc. Co. v. Wilderness Soc'y, 421 U.S. 240 (1975)

Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. v. Wilderness Society

No. 73-1977

Argued January 22, 1975

Decided May 12, 1975

421 U.S. 240


Under the "American Rule" that attorneys' fees are not ordinarily recoverable by the prevailing litigant in federal litigation in the absence of statutory authorization, respondents, which had instituted litigation to prevent issuance of Government permits required for construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, cannot recover attorneys' fees from petitioner based on the "private attorney general" approach erroneously approved by the Court of Appeals, since only Congress, not the courts, can authorize such an exception to the American rule. Pp. 421 U. S. 247-271.

161 U.S.App.D.C. 446, 495 F.2d 1026, reversed.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, BLACKMUN, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., post, p. 421 U. S. 271, and MARSHALL, J., post, p. 421 U. S. 272, filed dissenting opinions. DOUGLAS and POWELL, JJ., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Page 421 U. S. 241

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