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Quote of the Day - I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. - Will Rogers
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Chief Justice Roberts' Supreme Court Takes Up Government Regulation of Wetlands

We're going to find out from the Supremes whether federal regulators can prosecute John Rapanos, a Michigan farmer/developer (depending on whether you're arguing for him or against him), for dumping sand on his property.  

Well, it's not as easy as that, is it?  If it were, the Supremes wouldn't be involved, and neither would the lawyers.  Heck, it wouldn't even rise to the level of a blog post.

In fact, though, both the Supreme Court and a gaggle of lawyers are involved in a dispute over the government's regulation of Mr. Rapanos' isolated wetlands some twenty miles away from the nearest navigable waterway.  What do navigable waterways have to do with it?  The Clean Water Act allows the regulation of  "waters of the U.S.," which is generally defined as navigable.  And regulate they did.  Mr. Rapanos filled in wetlands on three pieces of land he owned in three counties around Saginaw, Michigan.  He got a prison sentence (but didn't go) and a $13M fine.

Some argue that navigable means you can navigate a boat on it.  Others argue that all waters flow into navigable waters, so everything needs to be regulated.

Recently, an appeals court ruled that the CWA grants the federal government this regulatory authority.  That case now gives the Supremes an opportunity to rein in federal regulators who may have forgotten Court's ruling four years ago that Congress intended the CWA to extend only over wetlands adjacent to navigable waterways, and not to isolated wetlands that are otherwise subject to local control.  Federal prosecutors have prosecuted Mr. Rapanos, arguing that clean sand was more dangerous to the wetlands than toxic wastes and chemicals.

Having heard Justice Roberts testify for three days about judicial restraint, any predictions on the outcome?  MIPTC guesses that Roberts will rein in the regulators.

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Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, October 12, 2005 at 11:45 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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