WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court opened the door to more lawsuits over the Clean Water Act in a Tuesday ruling that allowed businesses to challenge the federal government’s decisions on which wetlands and streams it can regulate.
The decision is being viewed as a big win for conservatives and property rights activists who have long challenged the federal government’s broad reach under the Clean Water Act.
In Tuesday’s case (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., Inc.) the eight active justices unanimously agreed that the determinations should be open to court review, with four offering concurring opinions outlining separate lines of reasoning for reaching that conclusion.
A former Justice Department attorney said that the fact that the ruling was unanimous shows that even the liberal justices will not automatically defer to the Obama administration’s Clean Water Act policy interpretations which impact property rights.
Following the decision, Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning, NY 23) – who is chairman of the congressional Private Property Rights Caucus – said he applauds the ruling.
“The Fifth Amendment Right to private property is critical to a free society,” Reed said in a released statement following the decision. “We care about protecting private property owners from the overreach of big government and stopping the federal government from riding roughshod over the rights of ordinary citizens. Allowing land owners to appeal the decisions of nameless Washington bureaucrats is the right thing to do, and we applaud the ruling.”