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Sackett V. EPA: Justices Criticize Agency's Dealings With Homeowners

Posted: 01/09/12 12:01 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) — Several Supreme Court justices are criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency for heavy-handed enforcement of rules affecting homeowners.

The justices were considering whether to let an Idaho couple challenge an EPA order identifying their land as "protected wetlands." Mike and Chantell Sackett wanted to build their house on the land. But the EPA says the Sacketts can't challenge the order to restore the land to wetlands or face thousands of dollars in fines.

Justice Samuel Alito called EPA's actions "outrageous." Justice Antonin Scalia noted the "high-handedness of the agency" in dealing with private property. Chief Justice John Roberts said that the EPA's contention that the Sacketts' land is wetlands, something the couple disagrees with, would never be put to a test under current procedure.

The justices will rule by summer.

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Filed by James Gerken  |