Supreme Court punts on St. Tammany frog challenge

November 28, 2018 - 8:26 am
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(WWL.com) -- The U.S. Supreme Court sides with a St. Tammany landowner who argued a portion of his land was wrongfully deemed critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog, by forcing the lower courts to re-evaluate their previous decision. 

The landowner’s lawyer, Mark Miller says previously, lower courts ruled in favor of US Fish and Wildlife’s broad lee-way to set aside land for certain species.

“The lower court needs to reconsider this, and decide whether or not this land is even habitat at all for the frog.”

The land is owned by Edward Poitevent, who owns tens of thousands of acres in the area, 1,600 of which has been designated as critical habitat.

Wildlife and Fisheries argues that the land, which is just across the border from where the frogs currently reside in Mississippi, will be crucial for the future survival of the species. Miller and his clients disagreed, because the land would first have to be terraformed…

“It would do so little to bring it back, because it really can’t live there without traumatic change. The economic impact to our clients was so substantial that it was arbitrary and capricious.”

The Poitevent family has owned the property since reconstruction.

Miller says the decision is a win for citizens’ rights when challenging unjust federal decisions on both ends of the political spectrum, by allowing citizens to take their critical habitat cases up with lower courts.

“Sometimes partisans on the left want to challenge government action, like under the current administration. Sometimes partisans on the right want to challenge government action. The thing is, everyone agrees you should be able to challenge.”

The decision was unanimous, 8-0, with Justice Kavanaugh not participating due to not having been confirmed at the time of the hearing. 

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