Supreme Court Has Two Chances to Protect Small Business
Small businesses are counting on the Supreme Court this month. In two cases, the justices can either subject millions of job creators to reams of red tape and costly lawsuits, or they can reach the right decisions, keeping the engine of the American economy running at full steam.
The first case is County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, which the justices will hear on Wednesday. It centers on a dangerous and invalid expansion of federal power, foisted on small businesses by the liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Ninth Circuit tried to unilaterally rewrite the Clean Water Act, ignoring the clear will of Congress. When Congress passed the law in the 1970s, lawmakers created a permitting process to regulate companies building in wetlands and limiting the discharge of pollutants into navigable waters. The system was straightforward and focused on the companies most responsible for pollution.
Yet the Ninth Circuit interpreted the Clean Water Act in radically different way. It declared that the law’s permitting requirements also cover activities that might affect the environment indirectly through underground aquifers. But Congress expressly refused to regulate this area, and even the Obama administration disavowed regulatory authority over groundwater. Importantly, aquifers are already regulated at the state level.