January 11, 2012

Sackett: Standing Tall at the Supreme Court

By Sackett: Standing Tall at the Supreme Court

Oral argument was held this week at the United States Supreme Court in the Pacific Legal Foundation property rights case of Sackett v. United States Environmental Protection Agency. In this high-profile litigation, PLF seeks to establish that property owners have a right to appeal to court when EPA effectively seizes control of their property by declaring it “wetlands” under the Clean Water Act.

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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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