December 16, 2015

PLF brings its 9th case to Supreme Court on Courting Liberty

By PLF brings its 9th case to Supreme Court on Courting Liberty

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a PLF case in which PLF argues that property owners should have a right to judicial review when federal regulators label their land as “wetlands” subject to federal oversight.

The court granted the government’s petition for certiorari in Hawkes Co., et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a case in which PLF was victorious at the court of appeals. PLF, which has long litigated to establish judicial review of wetlands designations, supported the Hawkes petition, which opens the prospect of winning a Supreme Court ruling for that principle.

Our Courting Liberty podcast features a discussion of this major development in the Hawkes case with PLF Principal Attorney Damien Schiff; Mark Miller, managing attorney of PLF’s Atlantic Center; and host, Harold Johnson, PLF’s media director. The Hawkes case is the 9th direct representation case that PLF attorneys have successfully petitioned the High Court to review.

Donor-supported PLF represents property owners without charge, as with all PLF clients.


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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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