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A good first step

April 4, 2012
Messenger News

Americans are entitled to due process of the law before the government takes their property or prevents them from using it. The Constitution guarantees it.

But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doesn't see it that way. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has reminded EPA officials they are not judge, jury and executioner.

In 2007, Idaho residents Chantell and Mike Sankett began building their dream home on a plot of land near a lake. EPA officials arrived quickly and shut the project down. The Sacketts were building on a protected wetland, the agency ruled.

And that was that, the EPA believed. It had told the Sacketts they could not proceed, and the EPA's ruling was law.

But the Sacketts went to court and, on Wednesday won in a unanimous decision by Supreme Court justices. They ruled the Sacketts had a right to a prompt review of the EPA mandate by judge.

EPA officials had insisted that allowing property owners quick access to the courts to resist such orders undercuts the agency's ability to deal with water pollution. That is nonsense in the Sacketts' case; their home would have had little effect - if any - on water quality.

Increasingly during recent years, the EPA has behaved in a high-handed manner. Let's hope this ruling is the first step in reining in the agency.



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