United States Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: December 11, 2015
  • Case #: 15-290
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court below: 782 F.3d 994 (8th Cir., 2015)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether an approved jurisdictional determination issued by the United States Army Corps of Engineers or Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act is considered a final agency action subject to immediate judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act § 704?

Petitioners issued an approved jurisdictional determination that designated property Respondent wished to mine for peat was “waters of the United States” under Clean Water Act (CWA). This designation, under the CWA, requires Respondent to obtain a permit before mining, or face harsh civil and criminal penalties. Respondent challenged Petitioner’s decision. Petitioners upheld their designation under the broad language used to define “waters of the United States,” and informed Respondent that the decision was final and all other administrative remedies were exhausted. The district court denied judicial review, citing lack of a final agency action under § 704 of the Administrative Procedure Act. The Eighth Circuit reversed, holding that an approved jurisdictional determination is a final agency action that allows for immediate judicial review. The Court granted certiorari to determine whether an approved jurisdictional determination is a final agency action. Petitioner argues that the language used to define “waters of the United States” has since been modified and made less ambiguous, and that Respondent’s issue is not ripe for judicial review. Further, Petitioner argues that an approved jurisdictional determination does not constitute a final agency action because the rights, obligations, or legal consequences Respondent faces are the same before and after determination is issued.

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