PLF wins landowners the right to challenge federal “wetlands” jurisdiction
SACRAMENTO, CA; April 10, 2015: In a historic Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) victory for the rights of property owners — and for the principle of accountability in government — a federal appellate court today ruled that landowners have a right to judicial review when federal regulators label their land as “wetlands” subject to federal control.
The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling in favor of three property owners represented by PLF: The Hawkes Co., Inc., Pierce Investment Company, and LPF Properties.
These parties own property in New Maine Township, Marshall County, Minnesota, which was designated as “wetlands” over which the Army Corps of Engineers has regulatory authority. The designation took the form of a “Jurisdictional Determination” by the Corps, holding that the property is subject to the federal Clean Water Act.
Overturning a lower court ruling, the Eighth Circuit agreed with PLF that property owners have the legal right to bring a court challenge to such a regulatory determination.
“This historic ruling is great news for everyone who values accountability in government and Americans’ access to justice,” said PLF Principal Attorney M. Reed Hopper. “When Clean Water Act officials assert control over someone’s private property, they should be prepared to defend, in court, their claim that the property is, in fact, jurisdictional wetlands. Their decisions should not be insulated from scrutiny and examination, as if the regulators were a law unto themselves.”
In litigating to hold Clean Water Act regulators accountable to the courts for their decisions about whether private property is subject to strict federal regulation, this case follows up on PLF’s landmark victory in Sackett v. EPA. In that precedent-setting 2012 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that property owners may appeal directly to the judiciary from a federal wetlands “compliance order.”
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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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PLF won a precedent-setting victory for property owners’ rights when the US Supreme Court ruled in our favor in the PLF case of United States Corps of Engineers v Hawkes The groundbreaking decision accepted PLF’s arguments that landowners have a right to seek judicial review when their property is designated as wetlands subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act
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For more than 40 years, millions of landowners nationwide have had no meaningful way to challenge wrongful application of the Clean Water Act to their land That changed today when a unanimous US Supreme Court ruled landowners have the right to challenge federal claims of jurisdiction in a court of law
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