After a review by the nation’s highest court, some are tallying up the score: private property rights 1, Dusky gopher frog 0.
The United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) told a lower court Tuesday to take another look at a case known as Weyerhaeuser Co. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In a unanimous opinion (8–0), the justices all agreed that federal regulators overstepped their authority when they declared 1,500 acres of private land in Louisiana as a critical habitat for a frog that can't survive there.
Edward Poitevant and his family own nearly 95 percent of the land in question, and they were parties to the case argued before the Supreme Court on October 1.
Mark Miller of Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) – the legal group representing the Poitevants – gave some specifics on the case.
"This frog only lives in Mississippi, and he can't live in Louisiana – where my clients' property is found – and the federal government decided anyway to declare his property critical habitat for that frog as sort of a backup," Miller informed. "If there was a catastrophe, the frog – they thought – could be moved there, and they could allow the frog to live there if they changed the property, but the frog couldn't live there unless you changed the property dramatically."
Miller went on to note that his client is in favor of protecting endangered species.
"My client said, 'Look, we're all in favor of protecting endangered species, but not only our backs when our property couldn't' do anything to protect the species – to conserve it in the language of the statute – and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with us," Miller noted.
The victory is PLF's lawsuit 11th at SCOTUS, and its third win this year.
Sierra Club and World Wildlife Fund did not have published statements as of press time.
Only eight justices presided over this case because it was heard prior to SCOTUS Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation and arrival on the bench.