Press Release

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.

About Pacific Legal Foundation
PLF litigates nationwide to secure all Americans’ inalienable rights to live responsibly and productively in their pursuit of happiness. PLF combines strategic and principled litigation, communications and research to achieve landmark court victories enforcing the Constitution’s guarantee of individual liberty.

Case Attorneys

Mark Miller

Senior Attorney

Mark Miller is a PLF Senior Attorney and manages PLF’s Florida office in Palm Beach Gardens. Mark’s work on behalf of property rights, the First Amendment, and our other constitutional … ›

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Oliver J. Dunford

Attorney

Oliver Dunford joined PLF’s office in Sacramento in March 2017. He litigates across the country to defend and advance individual liberty and the rule of law. Oliver’s cases involve the … ›

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Damien M. Schiff

Senior Attorney

Currently a Senior Attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, Damien joined PLF in 2005.  His practice has focused on federal and state environmental and land-use issues.  Damien was counsel of record … ›

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Christina M. Martin

Attorney

Christina Martin is an attorney at PLF’s Florida office in Palm Beach Gardens. She litigates cases around the country to protect individual rights, property rights, and the rule of law.  … ›

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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 … ›

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Jonathan Wood

Attorney

Jonathan Wood is an attorney at PLF’s DC Center, where he litigates environmental, property rights, and constitutional cases. He is passionate about finding constitutional, effective, and fair solutions to environmental … ›

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Case Commentary

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Post

By Mark Miller

Eight justices consider a shy frog & the meaning of habitat

This week to start its new term the Supreme Court heard argument on Pacific Legal Foundation’s case popularly-known as Weyerhaeuser Co. v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. I say popularly-known … ›

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Op-Ed

The Wall Street Journal: The Feds Bungle Frog Hospitality

Originally published by The Wall Street Journal September 30, 2018. When startled, the dusky gopher frog covers its eyes, looks out, and covers its eyes again, as if playing peekaboo. … ›

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By James S. Burling

Weekly litigation update — September 29, 2018

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