Press Release

Jan. 9: Supreme Court will hear PLF’s Sackett property rights case

Washington, DC; January 5, 2012: This coming Monday, January 9, 2012, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the Pacific Legal Foundation property rights case of Sackett v. United States Environmental Protection Agency. In this high-profile litigation, PLF seeks to establish that property owners have a right to appeal to court when EPA effectively seizes control of their propertyby declaring it “wetlands” under the Clean Water Act.

Oral argument in Sackett is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. at the United States Supreme Court on Monday, January 9. Arguing on behalf of PLF clients Mike and Chantell Sackett will be Damien M. Schiff, a PLF Senior Staff Attorney.

Victims of EPA overreach seek the right to their day in court

PLF clients Mike and Chantell Sackett, of Priest Lake in the Idaho Panhandle, bought a small parcel in 2005 with the intent to build a three-bedroom family home. The lot is in a residential area, where neighbors have built their own houses. The Sacketts obtained a county permit to build and started laying gravel. But then they were blindsided by EPA, which came in and claimed the property is “wetlands” — and ordered them to return it to the agency’s liking, on pain of astronomical fines.

The Sacketts wanted to contest the claim that their land is “wetlands” — but the Ninth Circuit ruled that they would first have to go through a years-long “wetlands” permit process, which could cost 12 times the value of their land!

Represented by attorneys with PLF, the Sacketts are asking the Supreme Court: When property owners are hit by an EPA wetlands “compliance order,” do they have a right to meaningful judicial review — or is EPA effectively above the law?

About Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported PLF (www.pacificlegal.org) is the leading watchdog organization that litigates, without charge, for limited government, property rights, individual rights, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations, in courts nationwide.

Case Attorneys

Anthony L. Francois

Senior Attorney

Tony Francois is an attorney in PLF’s Sacramento office, and has litigated cases around the country defending Americans’ property rights from land use and environmental restrictions. He is a member … ›

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Damien M. Schiff

Senior Attorney

Currently a Senior Attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, Damien joined PLF in 2005.  His practice has focused on federal and state environmental and land-use issues.  Damien was counsel of record … ›

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Case Commentary

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PLF's Sackett and Hawkes victories come to Michigan

Marquette County, perched on the edge of Lake Superior, is one of the most populated counties in Michigan’s upper peninsula In order to decrease traffic and to increase safety through the small towns in this area, the Marquette County Road Commission planned to build a road, County Road 595, through some undeveloped land The County hoped to create a short-cut for heavy-duty trucks, most of which are used to transport ore from the local mine to its processing facility Despite winning approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (“MDEQ”), the US Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) said “no way” to the plans The

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By M. Reed Hopper

How Sackett saved Andy Johnson

Pacific Legal Foundation has a long history in the US Supreme Court  It has won seven cases in a row, with two more pending  Most of these cases relate to protecting private property rights from overreaching government  Abuses under the Clean Water Act were the focus of our 2006 Rapanos case and our 2012 Sackett case  In Sackett, the High Court unanimously held a landowner could go to court to challenge an EPA compliance order (more…)

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By Damien M. Schiff

A response to a Sackett critique

In Sackett’s Limit,  Nathaniel Johnson argues that the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett v EPA, which holds that EPA compliance orders issued under the Clean Water Act are subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act, bodes ill for the Nation’s waters in particular and vigorous environmental protection generally  Mr Johnson explains that allowing blanket judicial review will hamstring EPA’s enforcement Consequently, Mr Johnson urges the lower federal courts to limit Sackett to jurisdictional challenges to compliance orders  There are several problems with Mr Johnson’s premise, as well as his prescription

(more…)

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