U.S. Supreme Court hears Idaho case as new term begins

Supreme Court
Posted at 2:22 PM, Oct 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-04 16:22:04-04

The U.S. Supreme Court is back in session and at the top of their to-do list: deciding a case coming from here in Idaho.

What’s on the line? The scope of the Clean Water Act.

The Supreme Court opened the term Monday with oral arguments for Sackett vs EPA. The case stems from a couple with property near Priest Lake on Idaho’s panhandle. To read the opening brief, click here.

When Michael and Chantell Sackett set out to build a home in 2007, they were stopped and alerted that they need a Clean Water Act permit from the Environmental Protection Agency because the property sits across from wetlands that drain into Priest Lake. The Sacketts argue because the property does not have a surface water connection, so the EPA lacks authority over the land. The couple sued the agency initially in 2008.

In this deliberation, the Court will examine whether wetlands are considered 'Waters of the United States' under the Clean Water Act.

"Why would congress draw the coverage line between abutting wetlands and neighboring wetlands when the objective of the statute is to ensure the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters?" said Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the Court's newest member, during hearing.

Ultimately, this case could not only impact the Sackett property near Priest Lake, but the EPA’s ability to regulate waterways under the scope of the Clean Water Act for the entire country.

A decision will likely be made by the court by the end of this year.