November 23, 2011

Sackett: Big Trouble in Idaho

By Sackett: Big Trouble in Idaho

In 2005 Mike and Chantell Sackett purchased a vacant lot in a fully built-out portion of property along the shores of Priest Lake, in northern Idaho, with the ideas of building a modest 3-bedroom home. In 2007, they started work, but were forced to stop when the EPA claimed they were filling a wetland without a permit. PLF is fighting for the Sacketts at the Supreme Court.

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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.

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