April 4, 2016

What do the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coastal Commission have in common?

By Damien M. Schiff Senior Attorney

To begin with, they often give property owners a very hard time.  Last week, my colleague Reed Hopper argued for one of those property owners in the United States Supreme Court. The case, United States Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., concerns whether a property owner may obtain judicial review of the Corps’ final administrative determination that the agency has authority over the property owner’s land under the Clean Water Act. I argue in this oped in The Washington Times that the decision from the High Court, which is expected by June, will be a good indication of whether the Court will continue Justice Scalia’s legacy of affording meaningful judicial review to beleaguered landowners.

The California Coastal Commission also was the recipient of Justice Scalia’s wrath, perhaps most prominently in his majority opinion in PLF’s landmark victory, Nollan v. California Coastal Commission.  Notwithstanding that supreme brushback, the Commission has continued to treat property rights with disdain.  Yet the recent controversy over the Commission’s dismissal of its fourth executive director, Charles Lester, has led some to conclude that the Commission is being taken over by developer interests.  Far from it, as I argue in this oped in The San Diego Union Tribune.

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