U.S. Supreme Court

Case Status


Docket Number



Cert. Denied


Questions Presented

1. In applying Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715 (2006), to determine federal jurisdiction over wetlands under the Clean Water Act, are federal courts bound to apply the analysis of the plurality decision, the concurrence, or some other standard?

2. Under whichever approach the Court chooses, did the Fifth Circuit err in holding that federal jurisdiction under the Act extends to a wetland that merely “neighbors” a “tributary” of a navigable water, without requiring that the wetland have a continuous surface [**2] connection with a relatively permanent body of water, or that it significantly affect the quality of traditional navigable waters?

3. Is an ordinary residential septic system a “point source” under the Act, and if so, can one who designs or certifies the system but neither owns nor operates it be held criminally liable for its discharges?

Case Updates

Cert. petition denied

October 06, 2008

U.S. Chamber files amicus brief urging clarification of jurisdiction over wetlands under Clean Water Act

July 07, 2008

NCLC urged the Supreme Court to clarify what standard courts should apply when deciding whether there is federal jurisdiction over a wetland under the Clean Water Act (CWA). In its brief, NCLC argued that lower courts have been unsuccessful discerning the governing standard in the Court’s deeply divided decision in Rapanos v. United States and as a consequence, millions of acres of property remain in limbo until it can be determined whether the property is subject to federal jurisdiction.

Case Documents