Supreme Court sides with Sacketts

Unanimous decision allows PL couple their day in court.

Print Article

Chantelle and Mike Sackett talk about their case after their property rights case was heard by the Supreme Court last fall. (Photo courtesy PACIFIC LEGAL FOUNDATION)

WASHINGTON, DC — In a historic and unprecedented decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has sided with a Priest Lake couple in a property rights case, ruling that they have the right to go court and challenge an Environmental Protection Agency order that blocked construction of their new home and threatened draconian fines of as much as $75,000 a day.  

The high court ruled unanimously in favor of Mike and Chantelle Sackett, who have been battling the EPA for the last five years after being told they could not get direct court review of EPA’s claim that their two-thirds of an acre parcel is wetlands.

“We are very thankful to the Supreme Court for affirming that we have rights, and that the EPA is not a law unto itself and that EPA is not beyond the control of the courts and the Constitution,” Mike Sackett said in a Pacific Legal Foundation press release.

“The EPA used bullying and threats of terrifying fines, and has made our life hell for the past five years. It said we could not go to court and challenge their bogus claim that our small lot had wetlands on it,” he added.

The couple contended there was no reasonable way to challenge the order and dispute the wetland determination due to circumstances including their lot being located in a residential neighborhood with sewer lines.

The Sacketts bought the small parcel in 2005 with the intent of building a three-bedroom family home before getting blindsided by an EPA order to halt construction in 2007.

The EPA, and 9th Circuit Court, said the couple could not get direct court review of EPA’s claim that their parcel is wetlands and that they must obey an intrusive EPA compliance order or be hit with fines that could total in the millions of dollars.

The Pacific Legal Foundation, touted as a leading watchdog organization and representing the Sackett’s pro-bono, decided to sue the agency under the belief that the EPA deprived them of due process in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

“EPA is not above the law,” PLF Principal Attorney Damien M. Schiff said. “That’s the bottom line with today’s ruling. This is a great day for Mike and Chantell Sackett, because it confirms that EPA can’t deny them access to justice. EPA can’t repeal the Sacketts’ fundamental right to their day in court.”

The ruling will allow the couple their day in court to challenge the EPA, but the real battle is just beginning.

The case has brought attention to the EPA’s reach and while the court only allowed a challenge to be brought, in a concurring opinion, Justice Samuel Alto stated that the law allowing EPA to demand compliance is overly broad.

“The reach of the Clean Water Act is notoriously unclear,” he wrote. “Any piece of land that is wet at least part of the year is in danger of being classified by EPA employees as wetlands covered by the act, and according to the federal government, if property owners begin to construct a home on a lot that the agency thinks possesses the requisite wetness, the property owners are at the agency’s mercy.”

“The position taken in this case by the Federal Government — a position that the Court now squarely rejects — would have put the property rights of ordinary Americans entirely at the mercy of Environmental Protection Agency employees,” he added. “In a nation that values due process, not to mention private property, such treatment is unthinkable.”

Print Article

Read More News

Over 120 people buried by massive southwest China landslide

AP

June 24, 2017 at 2:57 am | BEIJING (AP) — More than 120 people were buried by a landslide that caused huge rocks and a mass of earth to come crashing into their homes in a mountain village in southwestern China early Saturday,...

Comments

Read More

The Latest: Iran condemns plot targeting Mecca

AP

June 24, 2017 at 12:04 am | RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — The Latest on a foiled plot targeting the Grand Mosque in the holy Muslim city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia (all times local): 10 a.m. Saudi Arabia's regional rival Ir...

Comments

Read More

Suicide bomber blows himself up as Saudis foil Mecca plot

AP

June 23, 2017 at 9:53 pm | RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — A suicide bomber blew himself up near the Grand Mosque at Mecca as police disrupted a plot to target the holiest site in Islam just as the fasting month of Ramadan ends, S...

Comments

Read More

Ready, set, code: Pair teaches you how

June 23, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — Chris Nicolls and Isaiah Grey grew up in North Idaho, have known each other since their teens, and have worked on a few projects together in the past. Ultimately, the partnership stuck an...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 263-9534
PO Box 159
Sandpoint, ID 83864

©2017 Bonner County Daily Bee Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X