Justice Jackson Kicks Off First Term With Debate on Clean Water Act

portrait of woman with lawbooks

The Hon. Ketanji Brown Jackson. Courtesy US District Court, Wash., DC

Participating in her debut oral argument as the newest member of the Supreme Court, on the first day of its nine-month term,  Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson will hear a conservative challenge to the federal government’s authority to regulate wetlands under the Clean Water Act, reports Lawrence Hurley for NBC News.

The case not only ushers in Brown-Jackson as the court’s first female Black justice, but also marks the first time in history that four women justices will sit together on the bench.

The justices are revisiting two cases that concern the scope of the Clean Water Act and the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to enforce regulations.

Both cases involve the same dispute: Chantell and Mike Sacketts’ effort to build a property on land they own in Priest Lake, Idaho, parts of which the EPA has deemed to be a protected wetland, meaning the land is subject to federal jurisdiction and building on it requires a permit.

One of the main points of contention is whether the area constitutes a wetland at all, with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last year in favor of the federal government in its determination that the area did constitute as such.

The justices are now reconsidering this decision, with the court’s conservative majority remaining skeptical of broad assertions of federal agency power and many observers believing the majority may embrace more stringent tests proposed by four justices in 2006.

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