M. Reed Hopper

Senior Attorney Washington

Reed Hopper was a Senior Attorney in PLF’s Environmental Law Practice Group. He oversaw the Foundation’s Endangered Species Act Program that is designed to ensure that species protections are balanced with individual rights, the rule of law, and other social values. Reed also oversaw PLF’s Clean Water Act Project that targets illegal federal regulation of local land and water use.

Reed was one of our leading litigators, and it is with deep sadness that we convey the news that he tragically passed away on Christmas, 2017.

We wish to extend to Reed’s wife, Cathy, and all his family, our profound condolences.

A man of conviction, courage and compassion, Reed was a loving family man and generous friend and on the professional level, a brilliant litigator and renowned Supreme Court advocate.

In his own words, Reed “always had a strong patriotic spirit and a desire to serve his country.” Before joining PLF in 1987, Reed served as an Environmental Protection Officer and Hearing Officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, where he “gained a love for the law.” Spurred by that love and his reverence for “our constitutional way of life,” he “could not tolerate injustice.” Joining PLF allowed him to translate those sentiments into action. It gave him the opportunity, as he put it, “to rectify unjust actions perpetrated by overreaching government.” At PLF, he relished “getting up each morning to fight for a just cause.”

Reed won precedent-setting cases at all levels of the judiciary, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2006, he won the landmark Supreme Court case of Rapanos v. United States, which blocked Clean Water Act regulators from expanding their power to cover, potentially, every pond and pothole in the country.
Two years ago he was victorious again in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes, in which the Supreme Court agreed that landowners can appeal to the courts when their property is designated as federal wetlands. This historic ruling ensures that federal agencies across the board are accountable to the law and the Constitution.
In an important Clean Water Act case currently before the Supreme Court—National Manufacturers Association v. U.S.—Reed represented property owners from across the nation fighting for their right to bring challenges to EPA rules in federal court. We expect a decision early this year.
Reed graduated from the University of California, Davis, with a Bachelor’s Degree in German and major work in biochemistry. He earned his Juris Doctor Degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.

Reed will be sorely missed by all who benefited from his friendship and counsel. At PLF, his memory and inspiration will empower us to keep fighting for the causes dear to his heart, and ours.

Waters of the United States

Unanimous U.S. Supreme Court victory for PLF and property rights

In 2015 PLF challenged the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule to stretch federal control to nearly every pond, ditch, and puddle in the nation as nothing more than an outrageous—and illegal—power grab under cover of the Clean Water Act. And under the Act, people who are harmed by such rules have six years to sue in federal di ...

Kent Recycling Services, LLC v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Landowners win right to challenge wetland determinations in court

Kent Recycling Services wanted to establish a solid waste landfill in Louisiana. But an overzealous Corps of Engineers issued a Jurisdictional Determination claiming the property contained wetlands subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act. Kent disputed this claim and sued. Lower courts rejected his lawsuit as unripe on the theory th ...

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes

Landowners win right to challenge wetland determinations in court

Hawkes Company is a family-owned business in Minnesota that harvests peat moss, for landscaping. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers improperly claimed jurisdiction over the property as regulated wetlands. This put Hawkes in the untenable position of (1) abandoning all use of the land at great loss; (2) spending several hundred thousand dollars to see ...

Uintah County v. Zinke

Landowners attack unrestrained federal “wild lands” policy

In 2010, the Department of Interior issued an order known as the “Wild Lands policy” that directed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to preserve “wilderness characteristics” in federal areas not covered by other wilderness protection laws. BLM then imposes restrictive land use regulations on those areas and inserts itself ...

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November 30, 2017

PLF testifies on WOTUS rule

One of the most contentious federal regulations published in recent decades is the ill-fated and  ill-legitimate "waters of the United States" or "WOTUS" rule that was issued by the Corps and EPA over the objections of Corps experts who argued the EPA misrepresented the science and misapplied the law. ...

November 10, 2017

Government extremism is no virtue

Vigorous representation of a client is the hallmark of good lawyering. But when it goes too far, it's anything but praiseworthy... ...

October 19, 2017

How federal agencies rig the system

One of the most fundamental rights of American citizens is the right to seek redress from illegal government action in a court of law. But the federal government has an arsenal of weapons it wields to deny or curtail this right. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the government's attempts to stifle landowner suits challenging federal agency act ...

September 08, 2017

Why Fish and Wildlife is wrong on critical habitat

Recently, the Sacramento Bee ran an op-ed entitled "Why Fish and Wildlife is right on endangered frogs" that criticized a lawsuit filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of California farmers and ranchers. ...

August 14, 2017

Designating non-habitat as "critical habitat?" Where does it stop?

In 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Gunnison sage-grouse as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act and designated over 1.4 million acres as “critical habitat” in Colorado and Utah. For years, the affected states, counties, and landowners have partnered to conserve the species while maintaining econo ...

July 31, 2017

PLF sues U.S Fish and Wildlife to protect small businesses

There appears to be a universal recognition that small business is the lifeblood of our economy and a necessary component of our way of life: Economic freedom is the foundation for individual success and prosperity. This freedom is evident in the entrepreneurial small business sector, which creates most of the new jobs and a large ...

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