“The Sacketts may bring a civil action [under the Administrative Procedure Act] to challenge the issuance of the EPA’s order,” Justice Antonin Scalia said in a statement from the bench announcing the decision. “The APA provides for judicial review of final agency action for which there is no other adequate remedy in court,” he said.
The justices did not rule that the couple may proceed with construction of their home on the disputed tract. Instead, the high court decision sets the stage for a federal judge to examine the EPA order. In effect, the Sacketts won the opportunity to present their case to a neutral judge.
“We are very thankful to the Supreme Court for affirming that we have rights … and that the EPA is not beyond the control of the courts and the Constitution,” Mr. Sackett said in a written statement.
“The EPA used bullying and threats of terrifying fines, and has made our life hell for the past five years,” Sackett said. “It said we could not go to court and challenge their bogus claim that our small lot had ‘wetlands’ on it.”
He added: “As this nightmare went on, we rubbed our eyes and started to wonder if we were living in some totalitarian country.”
The Supreme Court decision represents a victory for property owners faced with the prospect of EPA action that effectively seizes control of their land by declaring it a “wetland,” said Damien Schiff, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation, which is representing the Sacketts.
“The justices have made it clear that EPA bureaucrats are answerable to the law and the courts just like the rest of us,” Mr. Schiff said in a statement. “EPA will have to be prepared to show a reviewing court that its wetlands regulations are really necessary – not just a power trip.”