Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sackett v. EPA

Sackett won.
EPA considered their property to be a "wetland," and told them to stop the development, and restore the property to its former state — or face fines that the government said could reach $75,000 a day. The EPA acted under the Clean Water Act, and it insisted — with the approval of lower courts — that the couple could not sue to challenge the order...
The Court said they could.
The Court stressed that it was not deciding whether Michael and Chantell Sackett will win their court case, but only that they had a right to file it at their choosing, now that the EPA "compliance order" is final. The decision reflected the strongly negative reaction most of the Justices had to the denial of a right to sue when this case was argued in January. Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., who was among those protesting most strongly at that hearing, wrote a separate opinion Wednesday complaining that the scope of the Clean Water Act's application to private property is unclear, and Congress or the EPA should move to clarify it.
SCOTUSblog will post links to that opinion, and the rest, as they become available.

Update: Scalia's opinion and Alito's concurrence are here.