January 22, 2018

U.S. Supreme Court will hear challenge to federal land grab for ‘phantom frog’

Washington, D.C.; January 22, 2018The U.S. Supreme Court announced today it will hear a challenge to a bureaucratic abuse of the Endangered Species Act that threatens landowners nationwide. Five years ago, federal regulators set aside over 1,500 acres in Louisiana owned by the Poitevent family and others, including Weyerhaeuser Company, as protected habitat for the dusky gopher frog—a species that has not been seen in the state for more than 50 years. 

Indeed, federal bureaucrats laid claim to this land in St. Tammany Parish while acknowledging that the property is unsuitable as frog habitat and plays no role in the conservation of the frog—and likely never will.

The Poitevent family and related businesses, all represented by PLF, own a majority of the property that will be affected by the decision and PLF will be representing these interests before the Court. This marks PLF’s 15th case before the high court, where the foundation has a long history of winning precedent-setting victories advancing individual liberty.

“The Supreme Court was correct to take this case, because the landowners here are victims of a shocking abuse of federal power,” said PLF Senior Attorney Mark Miller. “If bureaucrats can label any area as protected habitat, even where the species does not exist and where the property can’t be used for the species’ conservation, there is no limit to the land that federal regulators can grab.”

The Court’s announcement comes at a poignant moment, in the wake of the recent passing of M. Reed Hopper, the longtime PLF Senior Attorney and renowned Supreme Court advocate who led PLF’s litigation of this case.

“The Supreme Court’s acceptance of this important case is testimony to the power of Reed Hopper’s advocacy, for which my family and I will be forever grateful,” said Edward B. Poitevent II. “This case has nationwide significance. We are asking the justices to rescue us from irrational, oppressive overreach by an unaccountable bureaucracy—precisely the kind of government abuse that Reed dedicated his career to opposing.”

“We will miss Reed Hopper’s wisdom and guidance as we argue this case before the Supreme Court,” said James S. Burling, PLF’s Vice President for Litigation. “Fortunately, due in significant part to his leadership over the years, Pacific Legal Foundation has a deep bench, with many attorneys who have argued successfully at all levels of the judiciary, including the U.S. Supreme Court. In honor of Reed, we plan on continuing our tradition of bringing home victories for ordinary Americans caught in the crosshairs of government bureaucracy.”

“Pacific Legal Foundation fights to protect every individual’s property rights by ensuring that environmental policy is balanced, based in common sense, and that regulators are accountable to the law,” said PLF President and CEO Steven D. Anderson. “We look forward to vindicating these vital principles once again at the nation’s highest court.”

The case is Weyerhaeuser v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The related case, Markle v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is pending before the Supreme Court. More information can be found at pacificlegal.org/gopherfrog.

Case Documents

No files available.

About Pacific Legal Foundation

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 12 victories out of 14 cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

For Media: If you are on deadline or need immediate assistance, please call/email our media team at 202-465-8733 or media@pacificlegal.org

Donate