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    This page contains Supreme Court rulings -- with summaries of the majority and minority conclusions.

99-1178 on Oct 31, 2000

Decided Jan 9, 2001
A consortium of suburban Chicago municipalities (Cook County) selected as a solid waste disposal site an abandoned sand and gravel pit. They asked the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to determine if a landfill permit was required under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The Corps cited the “Migratory Bird Rule,” which extended its jurisdiction to intrastate waters that provide habitat for migratory birds, and refused to issue a permit.


(Rehnquist, joined by O’Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, & Thomas)
Applying the Migratory Bird Rule exceeds the authority granted to the Corps under the CWA. The Corps would have jurisdiction over wetlands adjacent to a navigable waterway, but these wetlands are not adjacent to open water.


(Stevens, joined by Souter, Ginsburg, & Breyer)
In 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, coated with a slick of industrial waste, caught fire. Congress responded to that dramatic event by enacting the Clean Water Act. The Act proclaimed the ambitious goal of ending water pollution by 1985. The Court’s past interpretations of the CWA have been fully consistent with that goal. Today, however, the Court takes an unfortunate step that needlessly weakens our principal safeguard against toxic water.

In its decision today, the Court draws a new jurisdictional line, one that invalidates the 1986 migratory bird regulation as well as the Corps’ assertion of jurisdiction over all waters except for actually navigable waters, their tributaries, and wetlands adjacent to each.

Congress does support the Corps’ present interpretation of its mission as extending to so-called “isolated” waters. I respectfully dissent.

    Participating counts on VoteMatch question 18. Question 18: Prioritize green energy Scores: -2=Strongly oppose; -1=Oppose; 0=neutral; 1=Support; 2=Strongly support.
  • Topic: Environment
  • Headline: Limit CWA restrictions to navigable waterways (Score: -1)
  • Headline 2: Extend CWA restrictions to isolated water bodies (Score: 1)

    Participating counts on AmericansElect question 8.
  • Headline: Limit CWA restrictions to navigable waterways (Answer: A)
  • Headline 2: Extend CWA restrictions to isolated water bodies (Answer: C)
  • AmericansElect Quiz Question 8 on Environment: Which of the following statements comes closest to your personal view?
    • A: Natural resources exist for the benefit of humanity
    • B: Natural resources exist for the benefit of humanity, but should be somewhat protected
    • C: Natural resources should be mostly protected, but also exist for the benefit of humanity
    • D: Natural resources exist on their own and should be completely protected
    • E: Unsure

  • Key for participation codes:
  • Sponsorships: p=sponsored; o=co-sponsored; s=signed
  • Memberships: c=chair; m=member; e=endorsed; f=profiled; s=scored
  • Resolutions: i=introduced; w=wrote; a=adopted
  • Cases: w=wrote; j=joined; d=dissented; c=concurred
  • Surveys: '+' supports; '-' opposes.

Democrats participating in 99-1178

Stephen Breyer j2dUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg j2dUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 

Republicans participating in 99-1178

Anthony Kennedy j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Sandra Day O`Connor j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2005) 
William Rehnquist w1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (until 2005) 
Antonin Scalia j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
David Souter j2dUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2009) 
John Paul Stevens w2dUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2010) 
Clarence Thomas j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 

Independents participating in 99-1178

Total recorded by OnTheIssues:

Democrats: 2
Republicans: 7
Independents: 0

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