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Sackett v. EPA

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: January 9, 2012
Case #: 10-1062
622 F.3d 1139 (9th Cir. 2010)
Full Text Opinion: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2010/09/17/08-35854.pdf

Administrative Law: Whether the Clean Water Act permits judicial review of compliance orders issued by the Environmental Protection Agency prior to enforcement action, and if not, if review preclusion is a violation of the Due Process Clause.

In April and May of 2007, the Sacketts filled in half an acre of their property with dirt and rock in preparation for building a house. In November 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a compliance order against the Sacketts, asserting they had discharged pollutants into wetlands in violation of the Clean Water Act. The order required the Sacketts to remove the fill material and restore the property to its original condition. The Sacketts sought and were denied a hearing with the EPA, and subsequently filed action in the United States District Court for the District of Idaho seeking injunctive and declaratory relief. The district court, concluding that it had no subject-matter jurisdiction prior to the EPA initiating an enforcement action, dismissed the Sackett’s suit. The Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed the judgment, finding that pre-enforcement judicial review of EPA-issued compliance orders was not allowed under the Clean Water Act. In addition, the 9th Circuit held that this preclusion did not violate the Sackett’s due process rights.

Petitioners argue on appeal that the Clean Water Act violates the Due Process Clause by depriving them of the use of their property and denying any meaningful judicial review of the EPA-issued compliance order. Further, Petitioners argue that the 9th Circuit incorrectly interpreted Congressional intent in its determination that the Administrative Procedure Act precluded judicial review of the compliance order.