Did the raisin case silently insulate the Endangered Species Act from the Constitution?

A recent article in Greenwire, reports that opponents of robust Constitutional protections for property rights and limits on federal power are finding a kernel of hope in the Supreme Court’s opinion in the raisin case decided last term. They contend … Continue reading

PLF seeks removal of willow flycatcher from ESA listing

Today, Pacific Legal Foundation filed a petition with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the Southwest willow flycatcher from the list of endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The petition explains how the best available science shows … Continue reading

The federal government doesn’t make mistakes

In essence, that’s what a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit held in a recent decision regarding critical habitat designation under the Endangered Species Act. The National Marine Fisheries Service designated virtually the entire West Coast of the United States as … Continue reading

Four legs good, two legs bad

The tyrant porkers of Orwell’s Animal Farm expanded their power by manipulating language. Whenever the farm’s seven commandments stood in the way of the ruling class of pigs, they’d reinterpret the rules in subtle ways. For example, when the pigs began … Continue reading

President’s weekly report — August 14, 2015

The more you own the more government can steal? We filed this petition for writ of certiorari in in Murr v. Wisconsin.  William Murr and his wife bought two contiguous lots along the Lake St. Croix waterfront on separate dates in 1959.  The … Continue reading

Can agencies ignore Congress and do whatever they want?

This week, PLF filed its final brief on the motion for summary judgment in the sea otter case. The case will be argued in L.A. on Sept. 21. Representing fishermen whose livelihood depends on being able to access Southern California’s … Continue reading

President’s weekly report — July 17, 2015

WOTUS WOTUS every where, nor a drop to drink We filed this challenge in Minnesota District Court on behalf of a variety of landowners and organizations to EPA’s new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule,  This rule, like the stuff … Continue reading

Adverse decision in green sturgeon critical habitat challenge

Today a Ninth Circuit three-judge panel issued a remarkable legal opinion.  The bottom line: Decisions to include areas as part of critical habitat for endangered or threatened species under the ESA are judicially reviewable, while decisions not to exclude areas from critical habitat are not judicially reviewable.  It’s one heck of a legal opinion.

Logic dictates that decisions to include or exclude areas from critical habitat are flip sides of the same coin. When deciding which area to include, one necessarily decides which areas not to include, i.e., which areas to exclude.  It comes down to a question of what to leave in and what to leave out.  But the Ninth Circuit panel didn’t see it that way when it opined that government decisions “not to exclude” areas from critical habitat designation for the green sturgeon species could not be judicially reviewed, on the ground that there was “no law to apply.”

The decision is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law.  But this case is of more than academic interest to lawyers.  Almost the entire West Coast of the United States has been designated by the government as critical habitat for the green sturgeon, placing substantial roadblocks to economic development and growth in the states of Washington, Oregon, and California.  Quality of life issues for millions of Americans are at stake.

We are reviewing our legal options.

President’s weekly report — June 26, 2015

The physical invasion of the raisin snatchers — a property rights victory at the Supreme Court  In a week marked by several major Supreme Court decisions that were quite disappointing to advocates of limited government and the rule of law, there was one … Continue reading