5 years ago

Inside baseball on Sackett v. EPA

By Damien M. Schiff Senior Attorney

Now available online is Cato’s 2011-2012 volume of its Supreme Court ReviewIn it, you’ll find my article on Sackett v. EPAThe piece not only discusses the decision and its impact on EPA’s enforcement of the Clean Water Act, it also details how PLF litigated the case from the district court up to the Supreme Court, and our strategy choices along the way.  I hope that it will appeal to lawyers and laymen alike.

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Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency

Chantell and Michael Sackett received a local permit to build a modest three-bedroom home on a half-acre lot in an existing, partially built-out residential subdivision in Priest Lake, Idaho. The home poses no threat to water quality but federal EPA regulators nonetheless declared their property to contain a wetland and demanded they stop all work and restore the lot to its natural condition or pay fines of up to $75,000 per day. When they sued to challenge this order, EPA asserted they had no right to judicial review. The district court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, and tossed their lawsuit out of court. The United States Supreme Court unanimously reversed, ruling that failure to allow the lawsuit violated the Sacketts’ constitutional due process rights. They are now litigating their claims in federal district court in Idaho.

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