ACRU

Supreme Court Sides with ACRU in EPA Case

“This is a great victory for property rights and against abuses of federal power,” said Susan A. Carleson, Chairman and CEO of the American Civil Rights Union, which filed a friend of the court brief in Sackett v. EPA.

March 21–The Supreme Court ruled today in favor of an Idaho couple, Chantell and Mike Sackett, who were building a home in a residential neighborhood but had fallen victim to an Environmental Protection Agency compliance order. Their building permit was revoked after the EPA charged that they had violated the Clean Water Act by filling in their lot with rocks and dirt.

But today’s unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court allows them to appeal the order in court instead of going through a lengthy, expensive wetlands permit process.

In its brief asking the court to hear the case, written by General Counsel Peter Ferrara, the ACRU argued that:

“The Sacketts were denied any hearing to contest the Compliance Order by the EPA … the Sacketts had the choice of bearing the intractable costs of applying for a permit to discharge pollution into the navigable waters of the United States by building their home on a residential lot, as if they were a major industrial enterprise actually engaged in real pollution, and then seek judicial review of any such denial, with no prospect of getting back the intractable costs of any such application. Or they could ignore the Compliance Order, running the risk of bankrupting fines and even criminal liabilities…

“This Hobson’s choice violates the constitutional requirements of Due Process of Law, which unquestionably protect Petitioners’ property interest in building their own home. It involves a regulatory taking as well in violation of the Takings Clause, as the Sacketts are indefinitely denied the use of their property….”

Ferrara praised the ruling today, saying, “The Supreme Court today terminated a long running EPA abuse, interpreting ‘navigable waters of the United States’ to include former puddles on residential lots. Hopefully this is a sign of the coming restoration of the rule of law to be re-imposed on the EPA.”