Even the Court’s three liberal justices found that the EPA overstepped its authority
All nine Supreme Court justices, including liberals Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, ruled Thursday that the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its authority in regulating a piece of property near a creek. You wouldn’t know that, though, if you only heard Democrats talk about the ruling, which they blasted as a “MAGA” effort to pollute waters and wetlands.
“This MAGA Supreme Court is continuing to erode our country’s environmental laws,” proclaimed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.). “This ruling will mean more polluted water, and more destruction of wetlands.” Rep. Ro Khanna (D., Calif.), meanwhile, said that “the Supreme Court is hurting public health,” asking, “How many Americans would be against clean water?”
Schumer attempted to turn the ruling into a campaign issue, saying he and other Democrats will “keep fighting to protect our waters.” Khanna went further, saying the Court “must be reformed before it’s too late.”
Khanna’s call comes as progressives try to reshape the Court in their favor. Democratic megadonor George Soros in January ramped up his funding of a group dedicated to packing the Court with additional left-wing justices, the Washington Free Beacon reported. Meanwhile, Court-packing advocates have become more vocal after reports broke that Justice Clarence Thomas went on vacation with a GOP donor.
In the case decided Thursday, Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, Michael and Chantell Sackett sued the EPA for declaring that it could regulate their Idaho property. The agency said it had that authority because the property, which is near a ditch that feeds into a creek that in turn feeds into a lake, constitutes “wetlands,” which the EPA can regulate under the Clean Water Act.
Every Supreme Court justice ruled for the Sacketts, saying the EPA went too far in regulating the land. The justices split, however, on establishing a new test for what the term “wetlands” means under the Clean Water Act.
The five-member majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, found that the act only gives the EPA authority over wetlands that have “a continuous surface connection” to “the waters of the United States.” Four justices—the Court’s three liberals, along with conservative Brett Kavanaugh—disagreed with those limits, with Kavanaugh saying the act also applies to “wetlands separated from a covered water only by a manmade dike or barrier, natural river berm, beach dune, or the like.”
Schumer and Khanna were not the only left-wingers to overlook these nuances. The liberal Washington Post did not mention that the ruling was unanimous for the Sacketts, instead implying that the decision was close. The paper called the ruling “another setback” in the fight against “air and water pollution.”
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