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Miss. Senators, Congressmen join amicus...

Miss. Senators, Congressmen join amicus brief on Clean Water Act authority

By: Anne Summerhays - April 20, 2022

All of Mississippi’s federal delegation except Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson signed on to the brief.

On Wednesday, Mississippi U.S. Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, along with Congressmen Steven Palazzo, Trent Kelly, and Michael Guest joined 196 of their colleagues in filing an amicus brief in support of the petitioners in the pending case Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Sackett case is directly related to how much authority the federal government has over states and private citizens to regulate “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

“Amici are members of the United States Congress, some of whom sit on committees with jurisdiction over the Clean Water Act (“CWA”). Amici have an interest in maintaining Congressional authority to define, within constitutional limits, the boundaries of federal jurisdiction. To that end, amici desire to present this Court with its views on how the text, purposes, structure, and history of the CWA support a more limited scope of federal control over ‘navigable waters’ that is embodied in Justice Scalia’s opinion in Rapanos v. United States,” the amicus brief states.

The group of nearly 200 lawmakers wrote that they, like members of Congress that enacted the CWA, support policies that protect the environment while also ensuring that States retain their traditional role as the primary regulators of land and water resources, and that farmers, manufacturers, small business owners, and property owners like the Petitioners in this case can develop and use their land free of over-burdensome, job-killing federal regulations.

“These entities need certainty about the scope of ‘waters of the United States’ under the Clean Water Act, and the Court’s endorsement of the Scalia test would provide that long-needed certainty,” the lawmakers wrote.

The federal officials state that in the CWA, Congress selected language that was understood both to exercise limited jurisdiction and to preserve the States’ traditional role as the principal regulators of local waters and lands. This intent has now been turned on its head, they said. 

“Through the ‘significant nexus’ test, the EPA and Corps can instead use any ecological connection between land and nearby water as a pretext for intrusive central planning. This case presents an opportunity for the Court to finally put the genie back in the bottle and endorse the functionally equivalent test proposed by Justice Scalia. Only then will Congress’s dual purposes of cooperative federalism and environmental protection in the CWA be fully vindicated,” the lawmakers continued.

The full text of the amicus brief and complete list of signers can be found below.

Miss. Legislators File Amicus Brief on Clean Water Act Authority by yallpolitics on Scribd

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Anne Summerhays

Anne Summerhays is a recent graduate of Millsaps College where she majored in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and American Studies. In 2021, she joined Y’all Politics as a Capitol Correspondent. Prior to making that move, she interned for a congressional office in Washington, D.C. and a multi-state government relations and public affairs firm in Jackson, Mississippi. While at Millsaps, Summerhays received a Legislative Fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi where she worked with an active member of the Mississippi Legislature for the length of session. She has quickly established trust in the Capitol as a fair, honest, and hardworking young reporter. Her background in political science helps her cut through the noise to find and explain the truth. Email Anne: