by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Michael Bastasch of the Daily Caller discusses one of the first controversial cases of the U.S. Supreme Court’s new term.
The Trump administration will defend before the U.S. Supreme Court an Obama-era decision to effectively take control of roughly 1,500 acres of private property in the name of an endangered frog that hasn’t been seen in decades.
The Supreme Court will kick off its new term hearing oral arguments over whether or not the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) can designate Louisiana land as critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog, despite it not being seen in the state for more than thirty years.
The plaintiffs, landowner Edward Poitevent and timber company Weyerhaeuser Co., argue FWS can’t designate unoccupied, uninhabitable land as critical habitat. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) gives FWS the authority to designate both “occupied” and “unoccupied” areas as critical habitats.
“[T]his case is an example not of anything wrong with the ESA itself, but with the application of the Endangered Species Act by the Fish and Wildlife Service,” Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) attorney Mark Miller, who is representing the plaintiffs, told E&E News on Friday.
On the other side, the Trump administration Justice Department (DOJ) is defending an Obama administration decision to designate Poitevent’s land as critical habitat. DOJ lawyers are siding with environmental activists.
“We’ve already seen coexistence in Mississippi, and it could happen in Louisiana if Mr. Poitevent had a different set of values where he could recognize the moral duty to protect endangered species,” Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) attorney Collette Adkins told Farm Journal in 2017.