Sackett and Constitution Day
Last week, I spoke on a panel at Cato’s annual Constitution Day conference. The panel’s focus was the Supreme Court’s recently completed term, viewed from a property rights perspective. I spoke on Sackett and the decision’s significance for Clean Water Act enforcement and administrative law generally. My essay on the case, published in the 2011-2012 Cato Supreme Court Review, should be avaialable online sometime next month.
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Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency
Chantell and Michael Sackett received a local permit to build a modest three-bedroom home on a half-acre lot in an existing, partially built-out residential subdivision in Priest Lake, Idaho. The home poses no threat to water quality but federal EPA regulators nonetheless declared their property to contain a wetland and demanded they stop all work and restore the lot to its natural condition or pay fines of up to $75,000 per day. When they sued to challenge this order, EPA asserted they had no right to judicial review. The district court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, and tossed their lawsuit out of court. The United States Supreme Court unanimously reversed, ruling that failure to allow the lawsuit violated the Sacketts’ constitutional due process rights. They are now litigating their claims in federal district court in Idaho.Read more
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