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Minnesota business challenges feds to have their day in court
Should property owners have a right to challenge federal regulators who label their land as "waters of the United States" subject to complete federal control under the Clean Water Act? That is the question before the Supreme Court of the United States in a pivotal case called U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Company.
PLF Fights For Homeowners’ Free-Speech Rights In Florida
Pacific Legal Foundation's Harold Johnson speaks with PLF Principal Attorney J. David Breemer and his client Edward Goodwin about how the County of Walton in Florida is denying Goodwin's right to free-speech by banning beach-signs on his property.
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PLF Wins Second U.S. Supreme Court Case In A Week
PLF’s Richard Fields speaks with PLF principal attorney Reed Hopper, PLF principal attorney Damien Schiff and Managing Attorney Mark Miller about PLF’s 9th Supreme Court victory in Kent Recycling Services, LLC v. US Army Corps of Engineers. The group also discusses how Pacific Legal’s win in Hawkes Co. helped pave the way for Kent Recycling.
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"During the final stretch of the 2016 campaign, we can expect plenty of debate between now and Nov. 8 about such issues as the rise of ISIS, security threats abroad and at home, immigration, racial divisions, and the economic woes facing everyday Americans."
"It's time for the federal government to abide by the Clean Water Act and stop the daily discharges of polluted water from the C-44 Canal into the St. Lucie River."
"At a minimum, all professionals — lawyers, teachers, journalists and others — should take notice when the state says it can ban the topics about which a fellow professional can speak."
PLF fights for the Marquette County Road Commission against the EPA and there are high stakes for the high court in election 2016.
Feds poison St. Lucie River and evade clean water act, and a Florida Keys land grab is for the birds.
Landowners nationwide win their day in court - TWICE, and Michigan counties are confiscating property rights.
Ganson Powelson Marquette Wayside
Ganson v. City of Marathon
Robbing individual property rights for the sake of a bird rookery
Summary: Gordon and Molly Beyer bought a nine-acre island, called Bamboo Key, in the City of Marathon in the early 1970s as an investment parcel for their family. At the time that they purchased the land, they were allowed to build one home per acre on the island, but in 1996, Monroe County declared Bamboo Key a “bird rookery” and prohibited any development whatsoever on the land. Most American families would not consider this a beneficial use for their property, property which they had to buy with hard-earned cash and that the government now wants to take for free.
Status: PLF filed a brief on 10/31/16 and is seeking review at Florida Supreme Court.
Case Page Press Release Blog
Marquette County Road Commission v. EPA
Michigan citizens correctly believe enough is enough when it comes to EPA overreach
Summary: PLF filed an amicus brief in federal district court supporting the Marquette County Road Commission as it seeks to build a needed road across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan despite the EPA’s arbitrary and capricious objections. Marquette County, perched on the edge of Lake Superior, is one of the most populated counties in Michigan’s upper peninsula. In order to decrease traffic and to increase safety through the small towns in this area, the Marquette County Road Commission planned to build a road, County Road 595, through some undeveloped land.
The County hoped to create a short-cut for heavy-duty trucks, most of which are used to transport ore from the local mine to its processing facility. Despite winning approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (“MDEQ”), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) repeatedly rejected the plans. By repeatedly rejecting the Road Commission’s plans despite the State’s approval, the EPA effectively vetoed the County’s Clean Water Act (“CWA”) permit application, despite the fact that Congress designed the CWA to allow the states to approve CWA permits.
Status: PLF filed an amicus brief on 8/19/16.
Blog Amicus Brief
Wayisde Church v. VanBuren
Michigan counties confiscating property rights
Summary: In Michigan, when landowners fail to pay their property taxes, local governments take the property, sell it, and keep all the profits—no matter how small the debt or how valuable the property. As a result, local governments are profiting handsomely over the misfortune of their residents. For example, a few years ago, Wayside Church lost a piece of land worth a little over $200,000. Even after deducting outstanding tax debts, interest, penalties, and fees, Van Buren County made $189,250 in profit by foreclosing and auctioning the property. If you’re a government official having difficulty balancing a budget, this probably sounds too good to be true. But for the rest of us, this should be troubling to say the least.
Status: PLF filed an amicus brief on 5/19/16 supporting Wayside Church in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, explaining that Michigan’s tax scheme violates the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Blog Amicus Brief>
Thomas Powelson Kent Hawkes
Thomas v. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Challenging unjustified restrictions on boating and water sports in Florida
Summary: The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act provides that the FWC may only regulate waters where manatees are “frequently sighted” and the best available scientific information shows that manatees inhabit the waters. However, the FWC has moved to restrict water sports in two areas near Indian Rocks Beach where manatees are not frequently sighted, and where there is no evidence that they “inhabit” the water.
Status: VICTORY! On November 19, 2015, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission reconsidered its proposed rule and decided it would amend it to exclude the two basins from its list of proposed slow zones.
Case Page Press Release Blog Podcast Video
Kent Recycling Services, LLC v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Army Corps flouts law in attempt to expand its control of private property
Summary: For almost two decades the Army Corps of Engineers has exempted from Clean Water Act jurisdiction all wetlands that had been converted to agricultural use prior to 1985, no matter how the “prior converted croplands” are used today. Under this rule, “prior converted croplands” can lose their exemption only if they are abandoned for a number of years and the land regains its wetland characteristics.
But now, pursuant to a “policy pronouncement,” the Corps has adopted a new standard that withdraws the prior converted croplands exemption upon a change in use. This could have a drastic effect on land use, as our client Kent Recycling has discovered firsthand. According to the Corps, there are over 53-million acres of “prior converted croplands” throughout the country. That’s the equivalent of half the land mass of the State of California. And among those 53-million acres sits the property Kent Recycling is purchasing.
Status: The U.S. Supreme Court granted PLF's petition for rehearing, vacated its order denying review of Kent Recycling, granted review of the case, then at the same time vacated the Fifth Circuit’s adverse decision, and remanded the case to the Fifth Circuit for further review in light of the Court’s decision in Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes. To summarize, the Supreme Court overruled the Fifth Circuit in favor of Kent Recycling.
Case Page Press Release Blog Video
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., et al.
When regulators label property as “wetlands,” owners may seek judicial review
Summary: Through a “Jurisdictional Determination,” the Army Corps of Engineers designated property owned by The Hawkes Co., Inc., Pierce Investment Company, and LPF Properties, in Minnesota, as “wetlands” over which the Corps has regulatory authority. On appeal, the threshold issue is whether property owners have the legal right to bring a court challenge to such a regulatory finding.
PLF represents the property owners on appeal, and argues that Jurisdictional Determinations — “wetlands” designations under the Clean Water Act — are final agency actions subject to judicial review. In attempting to hold Clean Water Act regulators accountable to the courts for their decisions about whether property is wetlands or not, and where they have regulatory power, this case follows up on our victory in Sackett v. EPA. In that landmark 2012 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that property owners may appeal directly to the judiciary from a federal wetlands “compliance order.”
Status: In a groundbreaking victory for PLF on May 31, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that landowners have a right to seek judicial review when their property is designated as wetlands subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.
Case Page Press Release Blog Video
Since opening its Florida office in 1997, PLF’s Atlantic Center has become Florida’s preeminent public interest legal organization dedicated to protecting property rights and individual liberties. Representing citizens throughout the Sunshine State and the eastern U.S., the Atlantic Center handles cases across the spectrum of PLF’s litigation areas. Gifts received from residents of the region support the Atlantic Center’s budget, unless designated otherwise.
E-MAIL D. KRUSE E-MAIL C. MARTIN E-MAIL P. PUCCIO E-MAIL M. MILLER
A review of Atlantic Center successes illustrates the Center’s broad reach:
- Sued Martin County, Florida, for enforcing an unrecorded property rights restriction that would have forced our clients to close their restaurant and put their employees on the unemployment line. After PLF sued, Martin County offered to relax the restriction in order to allow restaurant to expand.
- Sued the State of Florida for its irrational ban on the beer growlers that the craft brewers and sellers in Florida consider the industry-standard method of selling craft beer. Following lawsuit, the Legislature passed a bill eliminating the ban and Governor Scott signed the bill to support the small businessmen and women who drive Florida’s economy.
- Sued the City of Alexandria, Virginia, for its unconstitutional ordinance banning certain kinds of commercial speech. In response to suit, the City suspended and ultimately repealed the unconstitutional ordinance.
- Succeeded in stopping what national commentators called one of the biggest abuses of eminent domain anywhere in America, taking place in Riviera Beach, Florida.
- Won landmark victory in federal court forcing the federal government to conduct overdue status reviews of nearly every species listed as endangered or threatened in the state of Florida.
- Successfully fought local government attempts on both coasts of Florida to prohibit a private owner’s use of their residential property for short-term vacation rentals.
As advocates for clients in courts along the eastern seaboard and beyond, including in the United States Supreme Court, Atlantic Center attorneys defend the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. We vigorously argue for the principles of limited government and personal liberty, which find their origin in that founding document.
PLF Atlantic Center
Pacific Legal Foundation
8645 N. Military Trail, Suite 511
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