Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What to expect as the SCOTUS term ends

David Savage at the LA Times has this article. Savage notes that "the justices tend to put off the most difficult cases to the end of the term, and this one is no different. The court faces major decisions on terrorism tribunals, wetlands protection, lethal injection, domestic violence prosecutions and campaign finance limits."

The case that interests me most is Rapanos v. United States. The core issue in this case is whether extension of Clean Water Act jurisdiction to every intrastate wetland with any sort of hydrological connection to navigable waters, no matter how tenuous or remote the connection, exceeds Congress' constitutional power to regulate commerce among the states. The Rapanos argue that the "wetlands" in this case, which is really just a corn field, do not abut a traditional navigable water. Instead, they lie up to twenty miles away and are connected to traditional navigable waters only by means of intermittent surface flow through a long series of natural and manmade conduits. Since there is no "significant nexus" binding these wetlands with a traditional navigable waterway, then the federal government has no jurisdiction over the man's corn field. Here is a summary of the case and issues from the Pacific Legal Foundation website.

Those of you interested in the briefs can find them here.

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