Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, on her first day as a Supreme Court Justice, pushed back on a lawyer trying to gut the Clean Waters Act. In Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, the extent of the EPA’s regulations will be affected, especially in regards to wetlands. If the court rules in favor of the Sackett’s, the couple that brought the case to the Supreme Court when they were ordered by the EPA to not build on their purchased wetlands in Idaho, then the EPA could be limited in the kinds of wetlands and streams that the Clean Waters Act protects from pollution.
JACKSON: “Isn't the issue what Congress would have intended with respect to adjacency and there was a regulation that defined adjacency to include neighboring. And as far as I know, Congress used the term adjacency and didn't adjust it to try to make clear the touching requirement that you say was intended by the term.
LAWYER: “Yes, Justice Jackson, every single time that argument has been advanced by the government it has been rejected by this court. In Rapanos, the plurality opinion rejected out hand the idea that 404 G represents a ratification of the courts broad understanding of adjacency. Justice Kennedy's opinion doesn't even give it consideration. Swank, for its part, said 404 G is “unenlightened” as to the meaning of waters of the isles.”
JACKSON: “Let me, let me, let me try to bring some enlightenment to it by asking it this way. You see the question is which wetlands are covered, which I agree with. But I guess my question is why would Congress draw the coverage line between a budding wetlands and neighboring wetlands when the objective of the statute is to ensure the chemical, physical, and biological Integrity of nation's waters. So are you saying that neighboring wetlands can't impact the quality of navigable waters?”
LAWYER: “Justice Jackson, not at all.”