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    This page contains Supreme Court rulings -- with summaries of the majority and minority conclusions.

01-SWANCC on Oct 31, 2000

Decided Jan 9, 2001
Case Ruling: SWANCC v. Army Corps of Engineers
Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers interpreted a provision of the Clean Water Act (CWA) which requires permits for the discharge of dredged or fill materials into "navigable waters." This provision was the basis for the federal wetlands permitting program.

HELD: By Rehnquist, joined by O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas

Justices rule, 54, that law does not authorize federal government to regulate dredging and filling of isolated ponds and wetlands. The Court held that the Corps of Engineers' use of the long controversial "migratory bird rule," adopted by the EPA to interpret the reach of their authority over "isolated waters" (including isolated wetlands), exceeded the authority granted by that section. Long before the SWANCC case, there had been controversy and litigation over whether isolated waters that are not adjacent to true navigable waters are properly within EPA jurisdiction. The "migratory bird rule" extends the CWA to intrastate waters that provide habitat for migratory birds, despite being isolated from navigable waters.

The decision may affect up to 79% of wetland acreage. States may act to fill in the gap left by removal of some federal jurisdiction through new laws or programs.

DISSENT: By Stevens, joined by Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer

The dissent stated that the CWA went beyond navigable waters, to embrace marshes and adjacent inland lakes would extend the CWA indefinitely. The 1972 CWA offered no support for such a constraint, and the 1977 CWA amendment supports coverage of isolated waters. Moreover, the dissent declares, there is no Commerce Clause problem, since the discharge of dredged and fill materials into "waters of the United States" constitutes an economic activity that may be aggregated to show a substantial effect on interstate commerce.

    Participating counts on VoteMatch question 8. Question 8: No 'rights' to clean air and water Scores: -2=Strongly oppose; -1=Oppose; 0=neutral; 1=Support; 2=Strongly support.
  • Topic: Environment
  • Headline: Migratory birds don't extend CWA to isolated waters (Score: 2)
  • Headline 2: Migratory birds should extend CWA to isolated waters (Score: -2)

    Participating counts on AmericansElect question 8.
  • Headline: Migratory birds don't extend CWA to isolated waters (Answer: A)
  • Headline 2: Migratory birds should extend CWA to isolated waters (Answer: D)
  • AmericansElect Quiz Question 8 on Environment: Which of the following statements comes closest to your personal view?
    • A: Natural resources exist for the benefit of humanity
    • B: Natural resources exist for the benefit of humanity, but should be somewhat protected
    • C: Natural resources should be mostly protected, but also exist for the benefit of humanity
    • D: Natural resources exist on their own and should be completely protected
    • E: Unsure

  • Key for participation codes:
  • Sponsorships: p=sponsored; o=co-sponsored; s=signed
  • Memberships: c=chair; m=member; e=endorsed; f=profiled; s=scored
  • Resolutions: i=introduced; w=wrote; a=adopted
  • Cases: w=wrote; j=joined; d=dissented; c=concurred
  • Surveys: '+' supports; '-' opposes.

Democrats participating in 01-SWANCC

Stephen Breyer j2dUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg j2dUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 

Republicans participating in 01-SWANCC

Anthony Kennedy j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Sandra Day O`Connor j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2005) 
William Rehnquist w1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (until 2005) 
Antonin Scalia j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
David Souter j2dUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2009) 
John Paul Stevens w2dUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2010) 
Clarence Thomas j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 

Independents participating in 01-SWANCC

Total recorded by OnTheIssues:

Democrats: 2
Republicans: 7
Independents: 0

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