[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] granted certiorari Tuesday in several cases where the Court will consider the extent of the federal government's power to regulate the development of wetlands. The Court agreed to hear three separate cases, all of which involve issues of whether federal laws that protect the environment impermissibly intrude upon the law-making powers of the states or the property rights of private individuals. Property developers and environmentalists alike have been worried about how the newly appointed Chief Justice John Roberts [JURIST news archive] will vote in such cases. During his brief stint as a judge on the federal appeals court in 2003, Roberts suggested that the federal government's power to protect the environment is limited. In S.D. Warren Co. v. Maine Board of Environmental Protection (04-1527) the Court will consider whether a company that draws water out of a river and returns it without pollution must obtain a permit under the Clean Water Act [EPA backgrounder]. In Rapanos v. United States (04-1034) and Carabell v. Army Corps of Engineers (04-1384), the Court will clarify the role of the federal government to regulate the filling or pollution of wetlands not closely linked to waterways. AP has more.
Also Tuesday, the Court granted certiorari in the case of Zurich Insurance Co. v. Chatham County, where the court will consider an 11th Circuit decision that ruled that the county acted as an "arm of the state" in operating a drawbridge and was therefore entitled to "residual sovereign immunity" under common law. SCOTUSblog has more. Read the Court's full Order List [PDF].