The big case over the “little frog that might” and the federal government’s encroachment on private property rights got its day in court. Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States announced a unanimous decision affirming the rights of St. Tammany Parish property owners over federal regulators and remanded the case to the lower courts. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the Court’s opinion, instructed the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider the meaning of “habitat,” among other issues.
At stake was a question of whether the federal government could reserve the right to move the Dusky Gopher Frogs from their unique habitat in Mississippi to a plot of privately-owned land which could, with major alteration, be an alternate habitat for the endangered amphibians. This regulation from the Fish and Wildlife Service would mean the 1,500 acres of land in St. Tammany Parish, owned by the Poitevent family (represented in the case by the Pacific Legal Foundation) in partnership with timber company Weyerhauser, would be unavailable for any sort of development and must be held ready for some future date when the frogs might need to escape Mississippi.
Of course, this has broad implications for the rights of landowners in general as well as for what powers government bureaucrats and regulatory agencies can wield. Of course, at the Pelican Institute, we tend to think these implications are best depicted in cartoon form. Take a look:
We’ll continue following the case to see what the lower court does next. In the meantime, you can watch the Court’s deliberations in cartoon form (great stuff!) and read more about the case and the important SCOTUS decision here:
Louisiana Watchdog: Louisiana landowners win Supreme Court victory in property rights case
Wall Street Journal: Endangered Species Habitat Check
PERC: If a Frog Had Wings, Would it Fly to Louisiana?
Cato Institute: The Commerce Clause, Agency Lawmaking, and the Dusky Gopher Frog
SCOTUSBlog: Weyerhauser Company v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service