January 9, 2012

Sackett: initial news reports

By Sackett: initial news reports

The AP has a brief story here about the oral argument this morning in Sackett v. EPA. Early reports suggest that the justices were very skeptical of the EPA’s position: “Justice Samuel Alito called EPA’s actions ‘outrageous.’ Justice Antonin Scalia noted the ‘high-handedness of the agency’ in dealing with private property. Chief Justice John Roberts said that the EPA’s contention that the Sacketts’ land is wetlands, something the couple disagrees with, would never be put to a test under current procedure.”

We’ll link to the transcript of the argument itself as soon as it’s available.

Meanwhile, Prof. Jonathan Adler has more at The Volokh Conspiracy.

Update: A longer, more thorough report on the analysis at SCOTUS Blog.

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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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