” … At issue before the high court is whether the Sacketts have a right to have a “timely and meaningful” hearing before a court to challenge a Clean Water Act wetlands-restoration order of a federal agency. About 3,000 administrative compliance orders are issued each year by the EPA.
A federal appeals court agreed with the agency the couple’s only remedy was to go through a lengthy wetlands permit process, which the Sacketts say would cost thousands more than the property is worth. The EPA still maintains the land is a wetland, and that the couple passed up the chance to work with federal officials for an “after-the-fact” permit, which may have resolved the situation quickly and cheaply, a remedy the government says it uses often for individual homeowners…”
But in arguments, a Justice Department lawyer struggled under a verbal onslaught of skepticism from a majority of justices. After hearing Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart makes his point, Justice Antonin Scalia replied, “I’m not going to bet my house on that.”
A key sticking point was whether the homeowners’ due process rights were violated when they were prevented from getting an injunction — stopping any government enforcement until a court could hear the claims. Stewart repeatedly said the Clean Water Act blocked — or “precluded” — any judicial review of compliance orders.
“You are talking about a huge upheaval,” said Justice Stephen Breyer. “For 75 years the (federal) courts have interpreted statutes with an eye towards permitting judicial review, not the opposite. And yet you are saying that this statute precludes review, and then the second thing you say is that this isn’t final. So I read the order. It looks like about as final a thing as I have ever seen.”
via News – Home.
“The reality of the Sacketts’ situation is that they have been unambiguously commanded by their government not to complete their home-building project, to take expensive measures to undo the improvements that they have made to their land, and to maintain their land essentially as a public park until the property is ‘restored’ to the satisfaction of the EPA. They have been threatened with frightening penalties if they do not immediately obey; but they have been refused the prompt hearing they should have received as a matter of right in any court,” Pacific Legal argued.