Supreme Court hears lively debate on protecting wetlands, led in part by Justice Jackson.
The Supreme Court heard a lively debate Wednesday on wetlands protection, the most vital component of a comprehensive plan for addressing the damage being caused by the nation’s growing human population.
A federal judge recently ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue protecting coastal wetlands that could be affected by the BP Amoco Gulf spill, which has triggered an environmental emergency in the region. The judge also demanded additional federal spending to protect the wetlands, which were found to be critical to the Gulf ecosystem.
The government, on the other hand, wanted to dismiss the case and appeal immediately.
However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed with the judge and the two sides are no longer arguing for their positions in front of the Supreme Court, said attorney Richard Epstein, who represents the federal defendants. The case is one of three major cases the Supreme Court will hear today related to wetlands protection. It will also be one of the last cases the court hears on the issue before the holidays.
“The government is very committed to the wetlands case and we look forward to the Supreme Court ruling,” said Thomas Sullivan, spokesman for the Justice Department.
The case focuses on a group of wetlands that make up the wetlands in Duval County, Fla., which has been devastated by a hurricane that killed more than 300 people in 2005.
The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer found that the two-year-old plan for protecting the wetlands is not sufficient. However, Breyer also recognized that the federal government has done a great job of protecting the wetlands and called for a series of steps to protect the wetlands.
The Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling on the case no later than the first week of December.
“The case is important because it is one of three related cases that could result in the Supreme Court reversing the decision of the District Court in the case,” said Epstein. One of the cases, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, is