Supreme Court will review EPA’s navigable waters overreach
January 24, 2022
Washington, D.C.; January 24, 2022: The Supreme Court of the United States announced today that it will hear the case of an Idaho couple who have been in a 15-year battle with the federal government over plans to build a home on their residential lot.
As Chantell and Mike Sackett began construction on what they hoped would be a new home in Priest Lake, Idaho, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers ordered them to stop all work, saying they needed a federal permit and threatened tens of thousands of dollars per day in fines if they did not secure one.
The Sacketts have been in court fighting for the right to use their property since 2007. The Supreme Court heard the Sacketts’ case once before, ruling in 2012 that, contrary to EPA’s view, the Sacketts had the right to immediately challenge the agency’s assertion of authority over their homebuilding project. Now the Court will consider whether their lot contains “navigable waters” subject to federal control.
“The Sacketts’ ordeal is emblematic of all that has gone wrong with the implementation of the Clean Water Act,” said Damien Schiff, a senior attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, which represents the Sacketts. “The Sacketts’ lot lacks a surface water connection to any stream, creek, lake, or other water body, and it shouldn’t be subject to federal regulation and permitting. The Sacketts are delighted that the Court has agreed to take their case a second time, and hope the Court rules to bring fairness, consistency, and a respect for private property rights to the Clean Water Act’s administration.”
In hearing the Sacketts’ case, the Court will revisit the 2006 opinion it issued in Rapanos v. United States, another case litigated by Pacific Legal Foundation. In that case, a divided Court left unclear which wetlands are under the federal government’s jurisdiction.
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 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 17 wins of 19 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.