Attorney for plaintiff: Gerald Sharp, Preston, Thorgrimson, Ellis & Holman, Anchorage, Alaska.
Attorneys for defendant: Roger DuBrock, Law Offices of Roger DuBrock; and John Baker, Assistant Attorney General, State of Alaska.
Judge James K. Singleton:
This case involves a dispute between a native village corporation and a municipal corporation over a “reconveyance” mandated by 43 U.S.C. § 1613(c)(3). The parties have been unable to resolve their dispute and therefore have submitted it to the Court for resolution. Because this case involves the interpretation and application of a federal statute, this Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
This dispute arises under the Alaska Natives Claims Settlement Act (“ANCSA”). See 43 U.S.C. § 1601-1629e (1988); Aleknagik Natives, Ltd. v. United States, 635 F. Supp. 1477, 1491 (D. Alaska 1985), aff’d, 806 F.2d 924 (9th Cir. 1986). In passing this legislation, Congress declared as a national policy that “there is an immediate need for a fair and just settlement of all claims by Natives and Native groups of Alaska,” and that “settlement should be accomplished rapidly, with certainty, in conformity with the real economic and social needs of Natives, without litigation … .” 43 U.S.C. § 1601(a), (b).”
ANCSA expressly extinguished all aboriginal rights 1. See 43 U.S.C. § 1603; United States v. Atlantic Richfield Co., 435 F. Supp. 1009 (D. Alaska 1977), aff’d, 612 F.2d 1132 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 499 U.S. 888 (1980). In exchange, Congress provided for a monetary payment and conveyance of certain lands to Alaskan natives. The land and payments were not conveyed directly to individuals. Instead, conveyances were made to native corporations authorized by the Act. ANCSA created two tiers of native corporations–regional and village–and arranged for payments of land and money to be made to these business organizations. 43 U.S.C. § 1601-1607, 1613.
Congress included provisions in ANCSA to protect those in actual possession of lands subject to transfer under the Act. Congress provided that portions of these lands would be transferred back to three different classes of entities. 43 U.S.C. § 1613. First, the village corporations were to convey the primary place of residence, business, subsistence campsite or “headquarters for reindeer husbandry” to any person who occupied land within the tract conveyed to the village corporation. 43 U.S.C. § 1613(c)(1); Hakala v. Atxam Corp., 753 P.2d 1144 (Alaska 1988). Second, the village corporations were to convey land occupied by any nonprofit organization to the organization. 43 U.S.C. § 1613(c)(2). Finally, and of relevance to the instant case, the village corporations were to convey a specified amount of land to municipal corporations sufficient to meet foreseeable community needs. ANCSA § 14(c)(3), 43 U.S.C. § 1613(c)(3)(“Section 14(c)(3)”). Specifically, Section 14(c)(3) provided:
[T]he Village Corporation shall convey to any Municipal Corporation in the Native village or to the State in trust for any Municipal Corporation established in the Native village in the future, title to the remaining surface estate of the improved land on which the Native village is located and as much additional land as is necessary for community expansion, and appropriate rights-of-way for public use, and other foreseeable community needs: Provided, That the amount of lands to be transferred to the Municipal Corporation or in trust shall be no less than 1,280 acres unless the Village Corporation and the Municipal Corporation or the State in trust can agree in writing on an amount which is less than one thousand two hundred and eighty acres: Provided further, That any net revenues derived from the sale of surface resources harvested or extracted from lands reconveyed pursuant to this subsection shall be paid to the Village Corporation by the Municipal Corporation or the State in trust: Provided, however, That the word “sale”, as used in the preceding sentence, shall not include the utilization of surface resources for governmental purposes by the Municipal Corporation or the State in trust, nor shall it include the issuance of free use permits or other authorization for such purposes;
43 U.S.C. § 1613(c)(3). These conveyances are termed “reconveyances,” because the village corporation must reconvey to third parties land that the federal government has conveyed to it. In order to encourage a final settlement with respect to the land, all conveyances pursuant to Section 14(c)(3) are subject to a one-year statute of limitations period. 43 U.S.C. § 1632(b).
II. Procedure for Reconveyance Under Section 14(c)(3)
When Congress enacted Section 14(c)(3) and required that village corporations transfer land to municipal corporations, it apparently envisioned that people with similar interests and cultural backgrounds would belong to the village corporations and their corresponding municipalities, and that the memberships in these groups would overlap. Testimony at trial has indicated that this is the common situation throughout Alaska. However, this paradigm does not apply in the present case. See Janet Klein, A History of Kachemak Bay, the County, the Communities, Homer Society of Natural History, Homer, Alaska (1981) (describing the settlement of Seldovia by European immigrants). Probably as a result of this expectation, Congress overlooked the potential for disputes between village corporations and municipalities. Congress did not enact specific procedures for resolving disputes concerning reconveyances under Section 14(c)(3). The proper procedure to follow and the Court’s proper role in resolving these disputes has been the subject of disagreement in this case and must be addressed in some detail.
The defendant, Seldovia Native Association (“SNA”), proposes the following dispute-resolution procedure. After consultation, if an agreement could not be reached between a village corporation and an affected municipal corporation, then the village would make an offer of 1280 acres to the municipality. If the municipality rejected that offer, it could appeal the issue to the federal district court. The court would then interpret the statutory language of Section 14(c)(3), using traditional tools of statutory interpretation, and derive specific criteria for the selection of lands. For example, the court could determine that the term “necessary” in Section 14(c)(3) means “essential.” If so, then one criteria for any land conveyed would be that it was essential for some use by the municipality.
Once the court determined the selection criteria, it would, under SNA’s proposal, apply those criteria to the parcel of land proposed for reconveyance by the village. However, the court would not apply the criteria de novo, but would instead apply the deferential standard appropriate for reviewing agency decisions to the original selections offered by the village. If the selections do not meet the criteria under the deferential standard of review, then the court would then order the village to prepare a new offer of land, and if the municipality rejected that offer, the appellate process would begin anew until an acceptable resolution was reached.
Judge Kleinfeld, my predecessor in this case, agreed with part of SNA’s position 2. He interpreted the phrasing of the limitations period as compelling the Court to review decisions made by the village corporation, as opposed to making the original decisions itself. The limitations statute states:
Decisions made by a Village Corporation to reconvey land under section 14(c) of [ANCSA] shall not be subject to judicial review unless such action is initiated before a court of competent jurisdiction within one year after the date of the filing of the map of boundaries as provided for in regulations promulgated by the Secretary.
43 U.S.C. § 1632. Judge Kleinfeld thought that because the statute discussed “decisions made by a village corporation,” Congress intended that SNA had the initial right to select land for reconveyance, i.e., propose a map describing land to be conveyed, which the Court would review. He refused, however, to afford the village corporation’s decision any special deference 3.
Under Judge Kleinfeld’s analysis, the village would propose a map, which the court would review for compliance with Section 14(c)(3) criteria. The could would perform this review de novo. Should the map not comply with the criteria, the court would then direct the village to propose another parcel which would be reviewed in similar fashion. The court, however, would not “create its own map.” Docket No. 61 at 37 (transcript of May 28, 1991 oral argument).
A difficulty in the procedure proposed by Judge Kleinfeld is that it does not provide for a final resolution of its dispute. Under this procedure, the municipality and this court would be subject to potentially continuous litigation or, under the threat of continuous litigation, the party with the least resources for litigation would be pressured to accept its opponents’ proposal on its face. Continuous litigation, or the mere threat of continuous litigation, would undermine the primary and overall objective of the legislation, which was to expeditiously resolve disputes over land. See 43 U.S.C. § 1601(a), (b). While this goal remains illusive, it would be at best ironic to incorporate a procedure whereby extensive land disputes are institutionalized by the very legislation intended to resolve them. See Martha Hirschfield, Comment, The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act: Tribal Sovereignty and the Corporate Form, 101 Yale L. J. 1331, 1332 n. 14 (1992) (hereinafter “Hirschfield”) (discussing continuing problems with ANCSA implementation).
Aside from conflicting with the stated purpose of ANCSA, the procedures proposed by both Judge Kleinfeld and the defendant are inconsistent with constitutional due process requirements. Congress is generally under no obligation to create a property right in any private individual or group. Once Congress decides to vest property rights in an individual, however, those rights are protected by the Due Process Clause. Arnett v Kennedy, 416 U.S. 134, 167 (1974), reh’g denied, 417 U.S. 977, see also Cleveland Bd. of Educ. v. Loudermill, 470 U.S. 532, 541 (1985) 4; McGraw v. City of Huntington Beach, 882 F.2d. 384, 389 (9th Cir. 1989); Dorr v. Butte County, 795 F.2d 875, 877 (9th Cir. 1986). The Due Process Clause prevents adjudication of a dispute over property rights by men and women who have even an indirect interest in the outcome. Gibson v. Berryhill, 411 U.S. 564, 579 (1973) (board of opticians consisting of independent opticians was prohibited from determining whether other opticians could practice as employees because board members would obtain a financial advantage by eliminating competition from companies who hire opticians); Ward v. Village of Monroeville 409 U.S. 57 (1972); California Tahoe Regional Planning Agency v. Sahara Tahoe Corp., 504 F. Supp. 753, 761 (D. Nev. 1980).
Congress has given the City property rights to 1280 acres of land. The Court cannot, therefore, consider SNA’s decision as to which land to convey as determinative in adjudicating the issue. To do so would, even with de novo review, create a situation where SNA was adjudicating a disputed issue concerning its own property. That would violate the rule discussed in Gibson v. Berryhill, 411 U.S. at 579.
Courts should generally interpret statutes to avoid constitutional difficulties unless such an interpretation is clearly contrary to the intent of Congress. Edward J. DeBartolo Corp. v. Florida Gulf Coast Bld. & Constr. Trades Council, 485 U.S. 568, 575 (1988); Knapp v. Cardwell, 667 F.2d 1253, 1260 (9th Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1055 (1982). The Court therefore determines that the phrase, “[D]ecisions made by a Village Corporation,” was intended to establish a moment in time when a right to review would accrue and the limitation period begin, (i.e., when the village corporation made its decision as to its final offer of land for reconveyance). See 43 U.S.C. § 1632(b). The map proposed by the village corporation presents its last and final offer, after which the one year statutory period begins. The offer is no more than one party’s position in a dispute. Indeed, as Judge Kleinfeld noted, it may be a violation of fiduciary duty for a village corporation’s board to make a decision representing anything other than the village corporation’s interest. See Parker v. Northern Mixing Co. 756 P.2d 881, 894 (Alaska 1988) (director of corporation cannot take personal advantage of business opportunity that belongs to the corporation); Bibo v. Jerry’s Restaurant, 770 P.2d 290 (Alaska 1989).
In consideration of constitutional due process limitations, the following procedure appears to be the most suitable for resolving disputes over conveyances under Section 14(c)(3). The municipal corporation is required to present a request for specific land. The parties will then negotiate with each other and, if no agreement can be reached the village will determine its best and final offer. That offer will be rendered in the form of a map, which, when filed, will initiate the one-year statutory limitations period. See 43 U.S.C. § 1632(b). The municipality then can bring suit. The Court will apply the statutory criteria to the competing proposals and decide which parcels of land should be conveyed.
In deciding not to follow the procedure offered by Judge Kleinfeld, the Court is aware that the doctrine of the law of the case limits reexamination of previous rulings in the same case. Richardson v. United States, 841 F.2d. 993, 996, amended, 860 F.2d 357 (9th Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 112 S. Ct. 1473 (1992); Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. v. United States, 755 F. Supp. 269, 272 (D. Alaska 1990), aff’d, 967 F.2d 307 (9th Cir. 1992), cert denied, 113 S. Ct. 964 (1993). However, under certain circumstances, prior determinations that have become the law of the case may be reexamined. In Milgard Tempering, Inc. v. Selas Corp. of America, 902 F.2d 703, 715 (9th Cir. 1990), the Ninth Circuit stated:
A court properly exercises its discretion to reconsider an issue in only three instances: (1) the first decision was clearly erroneous and would result in manifest injustice; (2) an intervening change in the law has occurred; or (3) the evidence on remand is substantially different.
The instant case presents the rare situation where a previous ruling would contradict two well-established lines of Supreme Court precedent. Supreme Court decisions are, of course, controlling on this Court. In this situation, the Court has little choice but to follow the Supreme Court’s reasoning rather than that of the conflicting previous ruling.
II. Substantive Interpretation of Section 14(c)(3)
The primary objective of a court in interpreting a statute is to determine the intent of Congress. Co Petro Marketing Group, Inc. v. Commodity Futures Trading Comm’n, 680 F.2d 566,570 (9th Cir. 1982); Hughes Air Corp. v. Public Utilities Comm’n, 644 F.2d 1334, 1337 (9th Cir. 1981). The best indication of congressional intent and the starting point for the court is the plain language of the statute itself. Blue Chip Stamps v. Manor Drug Stores, 421 U.S. 723, 756, reh’g denied, 423 U.S. 884 (1975); California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. v. Legal Services Corp., 917 F.2d 1171, 1175 (9th Cir. 1990). Where the plain meaning of the statute is ambiguous, (i.e., susceptible of two conflicting but reasonable interpretations, each of which would fit the facts of the case being considered), the Court looks to the legislative history of the statute and the overall structure or context of the provision. Perroton v. Gray, 958 F.2d 889, 893 (9th Cir. 1992).
The disputed terms in the instant case are those found in 43 U.S.C. § 1613(c)(3), which provides:
[The Village corporation must convey] title to the remaining surface estate of the improved land on which the Native village is located and as much additional land as is necessary for community expansion, and appropriate rights-of-way for public use, and other foreseeable community needs . . .
43 U.S.C. § 1613(c)(3) (emphasis supplied). SNA argues that Congress intended for the village corporation to convey land that is essential for predictable community needs. According to the evidence presented at trial, city planners rarely forecast a community’s needs beyond the next five to ten years. Thus, SNA argues, in essence, that it is only obligated to convey any lands that are essential (meaning that ownership of the lands is the only way to satisfy some City need) to a community need which will be manifested within the next five to ten years, as shown by a city planning analysis. If the City cannot meet the burden of establishing such needs as to 1280 specific acres of land (and SNA argues that it cannot), then Section 14(c)(3) permits the village to select for reconveyance any 1280-acre parcel which the city is statutorily obligated to accept. In effect, SNA argues that this section establishes dual but independent rights: A right to land essential for foreseeable community needs and, a right to a distinct acreage minimum.
The City disagrees, arguing that Congress intended to provide municipalities with enough land to sustain the community for the next fifty to one hundred years. As it is not possible to determine the essential community needs in fifty years’ time, the City argues that Congress intended “necessary” to mean “useful,” not “essential.” Thus, where the City can show that some tract of land will be useful within the next fifty to one hundred years, that land should be conveyed up to a minimum of 1280 acres.
Evidence introduced at trial established that Congress could not have believed that the overwhelming majority of native villages would be in a position to establish a need for 1280 acres for “essential” community services as SNA defines those terms within the foreseeable future, i.e., ten to twenty years.
Congress has not defined the meaning of the terms “necessary” and “foreseeable community needs” in the context in which those terms are used. The parties have established that the statute is ambiguous by proposing plausible conflicting meanings for these terms. The Court, therefore, must look beyond the plain language of the statute. Perroton, 958 F.2d at 893.
The legislative history of Section 14 is sparse. As originally proposed, ANCSA did not require that villages incorporate as a condition for receiving land. See Joint Conference Report, Alaska Native Claims Act of 1971, Pub. L. No. 92-201, 92d Cong., 1st Sess., (1971), reprinted in 1971 U.S.C.C.A.N. 2247, 2255. As the municipalities themselves and not the village corporations could hold title to the land, reconveyance of lands to municipalities was not necessary. It was only late in the legislative process at a House and Senate conference that the proposed act was altered to require villages to incorporate in order to receive land.
The Conference Committee adopted Section 14 at conference based upon Section 15 in the Senate’s version of the bill. See S. 35, 92d Cong., 1st Sess. § 15(b)(2) (1971). As originally proposed the section stated:
Upon receipt of a patent or patents to selected lands, Village Corporations or the Services Corporation on their behalf . . . (C) shall issue deeds pursuant to subsection 11(g), without payment of any consideration, to any Municipal Corporation in the Native Village or to any Municipal Corporation established in the Native Village or to any Municipal Corporation established in the Native Village within five years of the date of enactment of this Act, to the surface estate of the improved land on which the village is located and of as much additional land as is necessary for community expansion, for appropriate rights-of-way for public use, airport sites, and such other interests in land as are reasonably necessary for public use and for foreseeable community needs . . . And provided further, That the amount of lands to be transferred to the Municipal Corporation shall be no less than one hundred and sixty acres[.]
Id. (emphasis added); see also, Senate Report (Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs) on Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 19971, S. Rep. 143, 175, 92d Cong., 1st Sess. § 15(b)(2)(C)(1971). Section 14 was adopted as proposed by the Conference Committee Report with one important substantive change: the village corporation was required to convey 1280 acres to the municipality, not 160 acres. Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, Pub. L. No. 92-203, 85 Stat 688, 1971 U.S.C.C.A.N., 794-95. ANCSA Section 14 was amended in 1980 to allow the village corporations to convey less than 1280 acres to municipalities under certain circumstances. Pub. L. No. 96-487 § 1405, 94 Stat. 2371, 2494 (codified as amended, 43 U.S.C. § 1613(c)(3)(1986)).
Overall, this legislative history indicates that Congress’s intent in enacting Section 14 (c)(3) was to protect the existing users of the lands. See Hakala v. Atxam Corp., 753 P.2d 1144, 1147 (Alaska 1988) (court held that ANCSA § 14(c)(1), was intended to protect the existing rights of those using lands). The fact that, at the final legislative stage, Congress increased the minimum acreage requirement from 160 to 1280 acres, and nine years later, preserved the 1280 acres minimum despite testimony at hearing that 1280 acres was virtually never essential to meet existing or foreseeable municipal needs of native villages, indicates the high value Congress placed on this acreage minimum. The legislative history indicates that Congress intended to ensure that existing municipalities would have at least 1280 acres of land for potential growth, if they so chose.
In light of the legislative history, SNA’s proposed interpretation, requiring a municipality to either establish that a parcel of land is essential to immediately predictable community needs or to accept a random 1280 acre parcel, is unreasonably restrictive. Such an interpretation would have the effect of eliminating the minimum acreage requirement by abolishing its purpose. The evidence in this case establishes that municipalities would rarely be able to show essential need and receive useful land. In virtually all cases, the 1280 acres would consist of land that might be useless to the community. Thus, Congress’s goal-providing municipalities with a minimum of 1280 acres of useful land would be defeated. Interpreting Section 14(c)(3) as establishing dual but independent requirements for acreage and necessity would contradict the congressional intent.
It is more reasonable to interpret Section 14(c)(3) as a single requirement of useful land, which, unless otherwise agreed, must be a minimum of 1280 acres. Such an interpretation would give a meaning to the 1280-acre minimum. See Love v. Thomas, 858 F.2d 1347, 1354 (9th Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 490 U.S. 1035 (1989) (when faced with an apparent conflict courts should interpret a statutory provision to avoid “redundancy or surplusage”). The Court will avoid making the 1280-acre minimum surplusage and will interpret Section 14(c)(3) as a single requirement, compelling the conveyance of 1280 acres of usable land.
Under this interpretation, the meaning of the disputed terms becomes clear. Congress knew and understood the size and the nature of the rural communities. Senate Report (Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs) on Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, S. Rep. 143, 143-44, 92d Cong., 1st Sess. § 2, (1971) (discussing financial and physical condition of Alaskan natives). Congress therefore knew that municipalities would not be able to show an essential and immediately predictable need for 1280 acres. Nonetheless, Congress required conveyance of 1280 acres and refused to reduce or eliminate the acreage requirement when it amended Section 14(c)(3) in 1980. Pub. L. No. 96-487 § 1405, 94 Stat. 2371, 2494 (1980) (codified as 43 U.S.C. § 1613(c)(3)(1986)). The Court concludes, therefore, that Congress intended to establish a broad meaning of the terms “necessary” and “foreseeable community needs.”
Congress intended to provide land to the municipalities that was less than “essential” for community expansion. Of the many possible meanings for the term “necessary,” (e.g., essential, very useful, marginally useful and useless), the size of the minimum acreage requirement indicates that Congress intended to mean at least “useful.”
Similarly, Congress intended for “foreseeable community needs” to mean something less restrictive than “immediately predictable by a city planner.” Congress had a stated goal of efficiently resolving land disputes and was aware that the municipalities had limited resources. See 43 U.S.C. § 1601. The Court, therefore, refuses to interpret the statutory language as to effectively require municipalities to spend resources on a detailed five or ten year city plan in order to receive the land to which they have a right. Such an interpretation would delay the Congressional goal of resolving these disputes and would possibly frustrate the ultimate goal of Section 14(c)(3), which is to convey land to municipalities for their growth. Instead, this Court understands that Congress intended “foreseeable community needs” to mean realistic and possible community needs, not theoretical or hypothetical community needs. Also, it is important to note that this conveyance was a one-time transfer of land. Congress attempted to fairly apportion federally owned lands in Alaska. See 43 U.S.C. § 1613, Hirschfield, 101 Yale L. J. at 1335. Limiting the transfer to a parcel describable by a five or ten year city plan would artificially limit the growth of the community.
Having visited the site that is in dispute and having carefully discussed the evidence presented, I conclude that the reconveyance proposed by SNA and disputed by the City does not constitute the land most useful for municipal purposes which is owned by SNA in the vicinity of the City. I cannot compel the City to accept this land over its objections. On the other hand, I agree with SNA that Congress intended that land was to be conveyed for municipal purposes, not for speculation or for competition with the village in income-producing activities. The Court therefore cannot approve any existing plan.
Having disapproved the proposed reconveyance, and established criteria for evaluating any future reconveyance, the Court is now prepared to establish procedures for bringing this case to a final conclusion. It is possible that with the guidance provided by this decision, the parties may be able to settle this case. I am not optimistic. Nevertheless, I will allow some time for discussion between the parties, if this case cannot settle.
It is the Court’s intention to appoint three special masters, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) 53, to review the record and take any additional evidence they feel necessary and, based on the evidence, formulate a plan for the reconveyance of 1280 acres owned by SNA, in the vicinity of Seldovia, which would be useful in meeting foreseeable municipal needs. In evaluating any particular parcel, the masters should consider alternate uses to which SNA has currently committed any specific parcel of land. The Court would allow the masters sixty days to deliver their plan and would allow the parties to file objections, in conformity with FRCP 53. The Court will then rule on the objections and resolve the case.
If the parties can agree on a panel of three men and women, knowledgeable about city planning in Alaska and willing to serve as special masters, and submit their name to the Court, the names submitted will be chosen as masters by the Court.
If the parties cannot agree on three masters, then each party shall choose one person who has some knowledge and understanding of local government or city planning in Alaska and who has no conflict of interest, assure that the person chosen will serve, and submit the name of that person to the Court no later than Monday, May 17, 1993. The two masters chosen by the parties will then meet and confer, at an agreed time and place, and pick the third master according to the same criteria, (i.e., willing to service, no conflict on interest, and knowledge about local government or city planning in Alaska). The masters will be paid by the parties.
The parties shall meet and confer, at an agreed time and place, and prepare a draft order of reference, which is in conformity with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 53, naming the three masters chosen and indicating their agreement to serve, setting out in detail the directions to the masters for resolving this case and preparing a report and recommendation to the Court. The order of reference should also set out a proposed timetable for completion of the masters’ task and the terms established for payment of the masters’ fees and expenses. The parties should consult with the masters before proposing a timetable.
Is it my expectation that the parties, with the aid of their experienced counsel, should be able to reach general agreement regarding the provisions of the order of reference and file their proposed draft with the Court on or before Monday, May 24, 1993. If there are specific disagreements regarding particular terms, each party shall file a written statement regarding terms in dispute on or before May 24, 1993.
Footnote 1– Aboriginal title is a right to land created by the possession of the land from time immemorial. It is not protected by the United States Constitution. See Trustee-Hit-Ton Indians v. United States, 348 U.S. 272, reh’g denied, 348 U.S. 965 (1955). Congress therefore had the power to extinguish such title.
Footnote 2– The case came to this Court upon appointment of Judge Kleinfeld to the Ninth Circuit. At that time, the motions for summary judgment had been completed. This Court prepared the case for trial and conducted a bench trial.
Footnote 3– Judge Kleinfeld stated from the bench, “I do not see though a basis for according a special level of deference for applying an arbitrary and capricious standard to the decision made by the village corporation. The statute doesn’t’s say that . . . The language in 5 U.S.C. § 706 on scope of review for administrative agencies applying an arbitrary and capricious standard is limited to administrative agencies. Seldovia Native Corporation in an Alaska business corporation organized for profit. It would be–it would probably be a breach of the fiduciary duty of the directors under Alaska law if they acted as disinterested parties, because they owe a duty of loyalty to their stockholders. That distinguishes them from an agency.” Docket No. 61 at 35 (transcript of May 28, 1991 oral argument).
Footnote 4– In Loudermill, the Court stated, “The point is straightforward: the Due Process Clause provides that certain substantive rights–life, liberty, and property–cannot be deprived except pursuant to constitutionally adequate procedures. . . . The right to due process ‘is conferred not by legislative grace, but by constitutional guarantee. While the legislature may elect not to confer a property interest . . . it may not constitutionally authorize the deprivation of such an interest, once conferred, without appropriate procedural safeguards,'” Cleveland Bd. of Educ. v. Loudermill, 470 U.S. 532, 541 (1973), quoting Arnett v. Kennedy, 416 U.S. 134 (1974).