United States v. Riverside Bayview Homes
Secondary Discussion Question 3
Does the asterisk footnote on page 12223 tell you anything about the politics of wetlands regulation?
This footnote lists the amicus briefs filed with the Court in this case.
At one level, the mere presence of amicus briefs tells you something: the case is important to someone besides those directly party to the dispute.
At a more specific level, one can examine the particular organizations or governments who filed amicus briefs. (Individuals may also file amicus briefs, although it is atypical.) Here, the Court divides those groups into three categories:
those urging reversal of the Circuit court's holding that the wetlands in question are outside of the section 404 permitting scheme (one environmental organization and seventeen state governments);
those urging affirmance (a petroleum group, one of those groups for "reasonable" policy that always seem to find reason on the side of less regulation, a developers' group, and a conservative litigation-oriented group);
and one amicus brief with respect to which the Court, somewhat mysteriously, does not characterize the desired outcome of the brief-writers (the Chamber of Commerce of the United States).
You can visit the Web sites of some of the entities filing amicus briefs.
One thing that this constellation of organizations presumably does is to confirm the stereotype that "pro-environmental" groups favor expanded federal regulation of wetlands, while groups that you think of as "pro-business" favor a narrower scope for federal regulation of dredge-and-fill permits.
The issue of what to infer from the position of state governments is a bit more complex and receives more treatment here.
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This page was last updated on 03/10/99.