Monday, June 19, 2006

Staring at their Decisis

Wow, the big bench are on a tear. Today comes the lastest in the series of 5-4 police state, big-business friendly decisions by the Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court set the stage for a re-examination of the 1972 Clean Water Act, as it narrowly ruled today in favor of two Michigan property owners who have sought to develop tracts designated as wetlands.

By 5 to 4, the justices overturned lower court judgments against the Michigan land owners, who had run afoul of the Clean Water Act over their plans to build a shopping mall and condominiums.
The Supremes decision was not
the resounding, unambiguous triumph that the land owners, John A. Rapanos and June Carabell, may have hoped for.
No, indeed it was not. "Resounding triumphs" will not be the path by which this Supreme Court will decide things and that should be resoundingly obvious at this point. Rather, they are using the approach Alito has already indicated he prefers, an incremental whittling away at long-standing legislation and precedent. All of a sudden, under the Roberts/Scalia/Alito bench, doubt is cast upon regulators of the 34 year old Clean Water Act as the Supremes question that these bureacrats might not quite know what their doing enforcing a law that has been on the books for decades.

But Scalia, writing the patrician opinion for his new boy, Roberts, scolded federal regulators and claimed that the Army Corps of Engineers "exercises the discretion of an enlightened despot." This, despite the fact that some 97% of all wetland permits are granted (1).

Stare decisis, my ass.

(1) All Things Considered, High Court Hears Challenge to Clean Water Act, NPR, Feb. 21, 2006.


Post a Comment

<< Home