The U.S. Supreme Court today unanimously ruled in favor of an Idaho couple who challenged an enforcement action levied against them by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In Sackett vs. EPA, the court ruled in favor of Mike and Chantell Sackett of Priest Lake, asserting that landowners may bring a civil lawsuit challenging a federal government order under the Clean Water Act. Senators Crapo and Risch issued the following statement regarding the case:
"Unfortunately, this case is not unique, but the Sackett's win today is very encouraging," the Senators said. "There is cause for concern when enforcement becomes an end unto itself and ignores the impacts that arbitrary, heavy-handed federal enforcement can have on the lives of people and their communities. Today's ruling means the EPA will not be able to use the Clean Water Act to strong-arm individuals and communities into compliance with its orders without the opportunity for judicial review."
The court did not rule on the question of whether the EPA's order violated constitutional right of due process, but held that the federal Administrative Procedures Act, which provides certain rules for federal regulatory agencies, applied in the case of the Sacketts. The ruling will allow property owners, in certain instances, to challenge a compliance order in court without waiting for the EPA to initiate a full-scale enforcement order. The Sacketts were being fined $37,500 per day for being out of compliance with no way to challenge the order.