Press Release

PLF applauds High Court accepting WOTUS jurisdictional case

Washington, D.C.; January 13, 2017:  The Supreme Court today agreed to determine the proper venue for challenging the Obama Administration’s new WOTUS, or “Waters of the United States,” rule that threatens millions of property owners with unjustified federal oversight by vastly expanding the reach of the Clean Water Act in violation of federal law.

In the case that the High Court accepted today — National Association of Manufacturers v. U.S. Department of Defense — the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals adopted a restrictive approach to judicial relief, allowing only federal courts of appeals to hear WOTUS challenges.  This would prohibit federal trial courts around the country from hearing lawsuits from aggrieved landowners and other members of the regulated public; instead, such challenges would effectively be concentrated in the first appellate court to consider a challenge.

The National Association of Manufacturers appealed this jurisdictional ruling to the Supreme Court, and Pacific Legal Foundation joined in the appeal as a direct litigant, on behalf of a number of landowners, farmers, and ranchers throughout the country.  A determination of the proper venue is an important question because it could affect how and where plaintiffs may challenge questionable rulemaking under the Clean Water Act in future cases, and perhaps other laws as well.

Besides its participation in this jurisdictional litigation, PLF is also currently challenging the WOTUS rule on the merits in the Sixth Circuit.

“The Supreme Court’s announcement is encouraging news for millions of landowners nationwide who have been uncertain where to file suits challenging federal regulations that define the scope of the Clean Water Act,” said PLF Principal Attorney M. Reed Hopper, who wrote PLF’s brief asking the court to hear the case.  “The Sixth Circuit read the Clean Water Act far too narrowly when it limited jurisdiction over WOTUS challenges to federal appellate courts. We expect the Supreme Court to overturn the Sixth Circuit decision.”

About Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported PLF is a watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, individual rights, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations, in courts nationwide.  PLF represents all clients free of charge.

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 … ›

View profile

M. Reed Hopper

Senior Attorney

Reed Hopper was a Senior Attorney in PLF’s Environmental Law Practice Group. He oversaw the Foundation’s Endangered Species Act Program that is designed to ensure that species protections are balanced … ›

View profile

Case Commentary

See all posts
Post

By Anthony L. Francois

The EPA should get on with Clean Water Act reform

For many years, PLF has served as advocate for ordinary Americans facing byzantine regulation of their land by the EPA’s water bureaucrats. In 2006 our client John Rapanos won his … ›

Read more
Post

By James S. Burling

Weekly litigation update — July 28, 2016

Appeal filed to rescue vaping lawsuit from being sucked into the Swamp When PLF first developed its litigation strategy to challenge unconstitutionally promulgated rules, a core component of that strategy … ›

Read more
Post

By James S. Burling

Weekly litigation report — June 2, 2018

Happiness is a burger on a warm bun, a cold draft beer and freedom of speech Courts shouldn’t look the other way when federal agencies seize power Congress never gave them … ›

Read more