Last year we brought you the story of Chantell and Mike Sackett, a couple who has been trying to fight the federal governments takeover of their land. Today the Supreme Court has finally ruled on whether property owners have a right to meaningful judicial review when the EPA seizes control of their property.
How the Nightmare began:
The whole ordeal started back in 2005 when Mike and Chantell Sackett bought a small .63 acre parcel of land with the intent to build a three-bedroom family home. The lot was in a residential area with a number of existing homes. The Sackett’s obtained all the needed permits, followed all the local laws and then started work on their new home.
Just when the couple thought they had realized their dream of owning a home, they were devastated by EPA who told the couple to stop building. Without judicial hearings or notice, the EPA claimed that the Sacketts property sat on protected wetlands and ordered them to return the land to its native condition or face enormous fines. The EPA then demanded payments of over a quarter of a million dollars to “request” permission from the U.S. government to build on their own land.
Armed with what they believed to be proof that the land was not “wetlands,” the Sacketts tried to challenge the EPA’s claim. To their surprise the EPA denied their request and the Ninth Circuit ruled that they had no right to immediate judicial review.
The Supreme Court Rules:
After years of battling the EPA and racking up over one-hundred million dollars in fines, we are happy to report that the Supreme Court finally ruled in the Sackett’s favor today. The Supreme Court held that landowners have a right to direct, meaningful judicial review if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency effectively seizes control of their property by declaring it to be “wetlands.”
While we are happy for the Sacketts, this ordeal is far from over. The ruling today will allow for judicial review, but the Sacketts will still have to fight this battle out in the courts.
Here is the Sackett’s Story: