February 8, 2016

Hawkes set for oral argument at SCOTUS on March 30th

By Mark Miller Senior Attorney

The Supreme Court of the United States recently scheduled oral argument in United States Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., Inc.supreme_court_building, for Wednesday, March 30, 2016. M.Reed Hopper, our lead environmental attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, will argue the case, and I will serve as his co-counsel. Reed is no stranger to the Supreme Court, having previously argued and won at the Court in the key wetlands decision known as Rapanos v. United States.

Earlier today, The Blaze published my op-ed about the case.  In the piece, I explain why the case should matter to all Americans:

The justices are poised to decide whether the doors of the courts will be open – or closed – to Americans whose property is effectively frozen by a federal wetlands designation.

Incredibly, right now landowners are denied access to justice in these situations. They can’t appeal a wetlands designation to the courts without first paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a wetlands development permit – and waiting years to be turned down. An appeal process that comes with such an impossible price tag is no appeal process at all.

The Hawkes Co., of Minnesota, is fighting to end this unfairness, and win the right to judicial appeal for itself – and by extension, for all property owners confronted with questionable wetlands designations.

I urge you to read the whole thing. And join us at the Court on March 30th if you are in the area. If you believe in liberty, due process, and the Constitution, then you will enjoy the show.

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes

Hawkes Company is a family-owned business in Minnesota that harvests peat moss, for landscaping. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers improperly claimed jurisdiction over the property as regulated wetlands. This put Hawkes in the untenable position of (1) abandoning all use of the land at great loss; (2) spending several hundred thousand dollars to seek an unnecessary federal permit; or (3) using the land without federal approval at the risk of $37,500-a-day fines and criminal prosecution. When Hawkes challenged the Corps in court, lower courts dismissed the case as unripe for review. But the Supreme Court disagreed, holding that a Jurisdictional Determination is a binding legal decision subject to immediate judicial challenge.

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