Skip to comments.Supreme Court sides with Idaho landowners against EPA
Posted on 03/22/2012 8:46:57 AM PDT by WilliamIII
Reporting from Los Angeles and Washington The Supreme Court strengthened the rights of property owners who are confronted by federal environmental regulators, ruling Wednesday that landowners are entitled to a hearing to challenge the government's threats to fine them for alleged Clean Water Act violations.
The 9-0 decision revolved around procedural matters and did not resolve questions about the reach of the act, which has been the subject of different legal interpretations.
But it is a victory for an Idaho couple, Mike and Chantell Sackett, who faced fines of up to $75,000 a day if they didn't restore a small wetland the Environmental Protection Agency said they had filled on a Bonner County lot where they planned to build their home.
When the Sacketts, who contended there were no wetlands on the property, sought to challenge the compliance order, they were told by EPA officials and later by a federal judge and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that they had no right to a hearing. Instead, they were told to comply with the order first and then seek a permit to resume building. They weren't entitled to a hearing until the agency had imposed a fine on them, the appeals court said.
Reversing the 9th Circuit, the high court concluded that the Sacketts had a right to sue the government at an early stage. The court did not rule on whether they had violated clean water regulations.
The couple were represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a property rights group. The EPA "can't order property owners to dance like marionettes while denying them any meaningful right to appeal to the courts," said attorney Damien Schiff, who argued the case. The agency "will have to change its enforcement techniques for the better," he said.
(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...
A small victory, but a victory nonetheless.
That the EPA is extra-constitutional is the larger issue.
I saw this couple interviewed on Fox this morning. They stated the EPA also demanded they plant “wet land plants” to restore it. If they had, the EPA would have been able to say, “See, the land has wet land plants ergo it is a wetland”. Small victory and I hope the couple is able to build their home.
John Adams' words in ""Defence of the Constitutions . . . " should be publicized throughout Conservative web sites. They can be found and downloaded from here.
"Suppose a nation, rich and poor, high and low, ten millions in number, all assembled together; not more than one or two millions will have lands, houses, or any personal property; if we take into the account the women and children, or even if we leave them out of the question, a great majority of every nation is wholly destitute of property, except a small quantity of clothes, and a few trifles of other movables. Would Mr. Nedham be responsible that, if all were to be decided by a vote of the majority, the eight or nine millions who have no property, would not think of usurping over the rights of the one or two millions who have? Property is surely a right of mankind as really as liberty. Perhaps, at first, prejudice, habit, shame or fear, principle or religion, would restrain the poor from attacking the rich, and the idle from usurping on the industrious; but the time would not be long before courage and enterprise would come, and pretexts be invented by degrees, to countenance the majority in dividing all the property among them, or at least, in sharing it equally with its present possessors. Debts would be abolished first; taxes laid heavy on the rich, and not at all on the others; and at last a downright equal division of every thing be demanded, and voted. What would be the consequence of this? The idle, the vicious, the intemperate, would rush into the utmost extravagance of debauchery, sell and spend all their share, and then demand a new division of those who purchased from them. The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If "Thou shalt not covet," and "Thou shalt not steal," were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free." (Underlining added for emphasis)
After reading Adams' words, and seeing what has happened in recent days and years, can we doubt the wisdom of his words?
9-0, including the Obama commies? Amazing.
IIRC, Louis l’Amour and Tom Selleck proved the Sacketts to be a pretty tough bunch to tangle with.
Sometimes the Supreme Court gets it right.
Now what idiots at the DOJ and EPA were on such a deluded power trip that they couldn’t even get a single liberal justice on the Supreme Court to agree with them?
Those at DOJ and EPA who pushed for the power grab should be fired.
If I read correctly in another thread.. This couple has nothing left. Just the land and motor home they are living in. They still are not allowed to build. Just to sue. I suspect they will be out of money by the time they win the right to build. Then what? They will have to sell the land just to pay the lawyer and the EPA while loosing, will still win.
I agree. It is a financial disaster for this couple no matter what. They need to pay for their attorney (this has been going on for some time), and may have to keep paying for a verdict. Even if the verdict is favorable... the government still wins. The couple has lost everything financially. Sad situation.
“Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking in the courtroom, mocked the EPAs view that the Sacketts small lot was protected by federal law as part of the navigable waters of the United States. The couple, never having seen a ship or other vessel cross their yard, questioned that their lot was a wetland, Scalia said, and they are entitled to a civil hearing before the agency to contest the EPAs jurisdiction over their property.”
Mark Levin discusses the EPA and wetlands in his new book “Ameritopia”, and when he reads the EPA definition of wetlands, it is completely clear that it is so broad as to be tyrannical.
It is easy to see how bureaucrats would abuse it.
MANY THANKS FOR POSTING THAT ADAMS QUOTE
What on earth would we do without those voices of sanity on the court (Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts)
And, even they have their liberal brain farts.
This is a classic case of how citizens are made to suffer when the power of the federal government is brought to bear on them.
But they plan to run with the ball. Send em a few bucks.
PS - Priest Lake is beautiful. Know right where their lot is.
I feel so bad for the family that was harassed and hounded by the EPA, and I hope they get their legal fees reimbursed by the government for this mess of the government’s making.
Has there ever been a more incompetnet Justice Department?
This is the second 9-0 decision this year. Remember the Hosanna vs Tabor decision in January re: the definition of a Christian “Minister” and whether the Lutheran school could dismiss a teacher who had been gone on leave for a very long time - when said teacher threatened the school with a lawsuit?
That right to actually bigger than the news media have portrayed. In two previous decisions
Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 531 U.S. 159 (2001).
Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715 (2006)
The court restricted the applicable scope of the clean water act.
In SWANCC the Corp argued that they could regulate any land that waterfowl would look down upon has habitable. The court disagreed.
In Rapanos the EPA argued that they could regulate any land where rain fell and later entered into navigable waters. Scalia's majority opinion said it had to be navigable water or adjacent lands. Kennedy's concurrence was more wishy washy and included the possibility of regulating land where there was a "Nexus" with the waters of the U.S. The EPA will use his version.
This case was the EPA work around those two cases. They claimed that their designations were not reviewable in the courts thereby ignoring the SCOTUS standards. They lost 9-0.
Strike three and they're out.
I reckon the couple may now be able to seek some form of compensation from the Feds for the trouble they caused.
You know you have been doing something very wrong like openly acting like communist thugs when even the liberal pukes on the USSC vote against you.
WOW, we sure do not get many 9-0 decisions from this cabal of politically motivated hacks.
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