Bureaucrats shouldn't be able to escape legal scrutiny

June 09, 2016 | By JONATHAN WOOD

Yesterday, Townhall published my op-ed highlighting the importance of PLF’s big, unanimous Supreme Court win in our Hawkes case (and its predecessor, Sackett) and whether these cases foreshadow anything for one of our cases currently pending before the Court. As regular readers know, the Supreme Court ruled in PLF’s favor in Hawkes, holding that Corps’ jurisdictional determinations — which assert federal control over private property — can be immediately challenged by affected property owners.

In another case (discussed here), we’ve asked the Supreme Court to decide whether property owners whose lands are designated as critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act can have their day in court. We’ve received an impressive amount of amicus support for that basic proposition.

My op-ed argues that the bureaucrats’ assertion of unreviewable power in this case should receive the same fate as those same assertions in Sackett and Hawkes. Here’s a taste:

As with the two prior cases, this question is of profound importance. According to a study by Brian Seasholes, Director of the Reason Foundation’s Endangered Species Project, critical habitat designations impose more than $10 billion dollars in economic impacts. These huge impacts include private property owners’ costs of pursuing time-consuming and expensive federal approvals, modifying their plans to satisfy demanding bureaucrats, and abandoning plans entirely because navigating all the red tape is too expensive and uncertain. Fundamental fairness demands that such impactful decisions be subject to serious independent scrutiny. One would think that, after the two unanimous defeats, federal bureaucrats would get the message. But they continue undeterred. Perhaps, as they say, the third time will be the charm.

Read the rest here.