Organizations seeking to vacate the Environmental Protection Agency’s and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ expansive “Waters of the U.S.” rule are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review whether the 6th Circuit Court is the appropriate court to hear challenges to the rule. The 6th Circuit earlier dismissed arguments that legal challenges to the rule should be brought first in federal district court and not courts of appeal.  

“This petition to the Supreme Court is not related to the merits of our case and we are confident that eventually the 6th Circuit and the Supreme Court will agree that the rule is unlawful,” said Ellen Steen, General Counsel of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “The petition was filed because the jurisdiction question is one that repeatedly arises in challenges to Clean Water Act actions. The time is ripe for the Supreme Court to resolve confusion among lower courts as to where jurisdiction lies, so that the American Farm Bureau Federation and others can stop wasting time and resources arguing with the federal government over where to file these important legal challenges.”

Federal courts of appeals are divided on how to interpret a provision of the Clean Water Act mandating that certain types of legal challenges be filed directly to courts of appeals. When pressed to decide this question, the three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit issued three separate opinions with only a single judge concluding that jurisdiction was lawfully in that court, making this question ripe for clarification by the Supreme Court.