It's outrageous to see some in the lamestream media characterize a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling that stopped a tyrannical EPA from running roughshod over property owners as being a great victory for corporations hellbent on destroying the environment.This is funny coming from a paper owned by the Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Heritage Foundation but that's another blog post. Let's get to the real issue:
But that's what happens when major media outlets gather their "intelligence" -- if not take their marching orders -- from the likes of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Essentially, the high court ruled that those who build on their property have the right to challenge EPA diktats preventing building before first being forced into pauperism to comply.Let's stop there to ponder what Scaife's braintrust wants us to think. They dislike the idea that the case, Sackett v. EPA, is being used by "some in the lamestream media" (who, exactly?) to retell the same old "bad corporations want to run rough shod over the environment" story.
It was an arbitrary and capricious EPA that forced Michael and Chantell Sackett to stop construction on their home in an almost fully developed plan in the Idaho Panhandle. The EPA classified the site, less than an acre, as a protected "wetland."
Here's Scalia's summary:
The Sacketts are interested parties feeling their way. They own a 2⁄3-acre residential lot in Bonner County, Idaho. Their property lies just north of Priest Lake, but is separated from the lake by several lots containing permanent structures. In preparation for constructing a house,the Sacketts filled in part of their lot with dirt and rock. Some months later, they received from the EPA a compliance order.The compliance order described what the EPA thought were the Sackett's violations of the Clean Water Act. Scalia continues:
On the basis of these findings and conclusions, the order directs the Sacketts, among other things, “immediately[to] undertake activities to restore the Site in accordance with [an EPA-created] Restoration Work Plan” and to “pro- vide and/or obtain access to the Site . . . [and] access to all records and documentation related to the conditions at the Site . . . to EPA employees and/or their designated representatives.” Id., at 21–22, ¶¶2.1, 2.7.Scalia notes elsewhere:
The Sacketts, who do not believe that their property issubject to the Act, asked the EPA for a hearing, but that request was denied.
Today we consider only whether the dispute may be brought to court by challenging the compliance order—we do not resolve the dispute on the merits.So far so good. It's only when we start digging do we see the stuff Scaife's braintrust didn't think we needed to know. For example The Seattle Times reported:
All five appellate circuits that have considered similar cases likewise have rejected pre-enforcement lawsuits such as the one the Sacketts filed. This unanimity among appellate circuits made the Supreme Court's decision to hear the case somewhat surprising, prompting speculation that the high court's conservative majority is determined to go in a different direction.Hmmm...so the Sacketts were represented pro bono by the Pacific Legal Foundation.
"I think it's fair to say that the Supreme Court doesn't take cases simply to pat the lower courts on the back," said Damien Schiff, a senior staff lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation, which is representing the Sacketts pro bono.
You know where this is leading, don't you?
Between 1985 and 2009 almost $4 million was granted to the Pacific Legal Foundation by the Richard Mellon Scaife controlled Carthage and Sarah Scaife Foundations.
At the end of his concurring opinion, Justice Samuel Alito referenced an amicus brief by the Competitive Enterprise Institute and that got me wondering - how many amicus briefs were there and where did they come from?
Luckily, Scotus Blog answers those questions. Among the fourteen amicus briefs, there are briefs from:
- American Civil Rights Union ($700,000 in Scaife Foundation money over the years)
- Competitive Enterprise Institute ($2.9 million in Scaife Foundation money over the years)
- Institute for Justice ($1.56 million in Scaife Foundation money over the years)
- Mountain States Legal Foundation ($350,000 in Scaife Foundation money over the years)
So we're talking more than $9 million in Scaife money to organizations in one way or another tied to this story.
And no mention of any of it in the braintrust's editorial.