U.S. Supreme Court

Case Status


Docket Number


2011 Term


Questions Presented

1. May petitioners seek pre-enforcement judicial review of the administrative compliance order pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U. S. C. §704?

2. If not, does petitioners' inability to seek pre-enforcement judicial review of the administrative compliance order violate their rights under the due process clause?

Case Updates

Supreme Court decides right to pre-enforcement review of EPA "complicance orders"

March 21, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court held that the Sacketts may bring a civil action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to challenge the issurance of the EPA's compliance order. According to the Court, EPA "compliance orders" have "all the hallmarks" of an APA "final agency action" and thus can be challenged in court. Moreover, the Clean Water Act was not "designed to enable the strong-arming of regulated parties into 'voluntary compliance' without the opportunity for judicial review."

U.S. Chamber files amicus brief

September 30, 2011

NCLC urged the Supreme Court to hold that the EPA cannot unilaterally impose its will on private individuals and businesses without first according them the most basic of constitutional protections - the right to a timely hearing before a neutral decisionmaker. In this case, the EPA claimed that an Idaho family was building a new home on a "wetland" subject to the Clean Water Act (CWA) and unilaterally demanded that the family abandon their plans to build the home on their personal property, or, in the alternative, face up to $75,000 per day in fines. In its amicus brief, NCLC explained that the EPA routinely issues administrative orders that adjudicate liability, require costly actions, and impose severe penalties for noncompliance, without providing any opportunity at the administrative level for review of the EPA's orders. And if the recipient of such an order challenges it, EPA takes the position that the recipient is not entitled to any judicial review until EPA eventually files an action in court several years later, following the accrual of massive and highly coercive fines. NCLC warned that the EPA's rampant abuse of administrative orders effectively forces individuals, families, and small businesses to risk potentially millions of dollars or even bankruptcy if they want to seek judicial review of the EPA's actions.

Case Documents