WASHINGTON, DC; June 6, 2016: Following up its ruling last week for Pacific Legal Foundation in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., the Supreme Court today gave PLF another victory, in a second high-profile wetlands-regulation case, Kent Recycling Services v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
PLF represents — free of charge — Kent Recycling Services, which seeks to establish a solid waste landfill in Assumption Parish, Louisiana. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stymied the company’s plan when the Corps issued its “jurisdictional determination” that the land in dispute includes wetlands covered by the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).
The issue in Kent Recycling is the same as in PLF’s Hawkes case: whether landowners may appeal directly to the courts if their property is declared “wetlands” subject to federal control. In Kent Recycling, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that landowners do not have such a right of appeal. But last week, in Hawkes, the Supreme Court held otherwise: setting precedent, the court unanimously ruled that wetlands “jurisdictional determinations” are indeed subject to immediate judicial review.
Today, the Supreme Court ordered the Fifth Circuit to fall in line. It granted PLF’s petition in Kent Recycling, and sent the case back to the Fifth Circuit to reconsider its decision in light of the Hawkes outcome. This victory marks PLF’s ninth straight direct-representation victory at the Supreme Court in litigation for liberty and limited government — an unsurpassed record among organizations with a broad-based pro-freedom mission.
“Today’s announcement marks another great victory for property rights,” said Mark Miller, managing attorney with PLF’s Atlantic Center in Florida. “It reaffirms that property owners across the country can hold overzealous federal bureaucrats immediately accountable in court for erroneous assertions of control over wetlands. This levels the playing field for landowners who have been at the mercy of an overreaching federal government for far too long.
“The procedural saga of Kent Recycling is interesting and rare — and underscores PLF’s doggedness and determination in fighting for the rights of landowners nationwide,” Miller added. “The Supreme Court initially declined PLF’s petition for writ of certiorari in Kent Recycling. However, we asked the High Court to reconsider after the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Hawkes, came down with a ruling that conflicted with the Fifth Circuit’s decision. Now that the Supreme Court has agreed with the Eighth Circuit — affirming landowners’ right to their day in court — the justices have granted PLF’s petition for rehearing in Kent Recycling, granted certiorari and vacated the Fifth Circuit’s earlier opinion, all without even holding oral argument. Now the case returns to the Fifth Circuit to be re-decided, the correct way.”
About Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported Pacific Legal Foundation is the leading legal watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, free enterprise, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations, in courts across the country. PLF represents all clients free of charge.
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Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 39 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 11 victories out of 13 cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.