Hurt by Species Act
| A 9-0 opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia
reversed two lower courts and said Oregon ranchers Brad Bennett and Mario Giordano deserve
a trial on charges the government improperly cut off irrigation water to save two types of
Justice Scalia noted the Justice Department never tried to defend the 9th U.S. Circuit Court's reasoning and then dismissed the government contention that citizens may be kept out of court despite specific language that "any person may sue under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Saying the Interior Department Bureau of Reclamation operated the same way throughout the century, "it is not difficult to conclude that petitioners have met their burden" of showing the likely outcome, Justice Scalia wrote.
The issue is a touchstone for conservative interests concerned about federal actions that take land or earning power without compensation, so the plaintiffs were supported by a broad range of backers, all of them gleeful the decision was unanimous.
"That is the striking thing of the decision. I had hoped we'd win, but when you see 'unanimous,' that
is something," said Henson Moore, president of the
American Forest & Paper Association.
supplies were cut by 80 percent to some ranchers and to the Horsefly Irrigation District
and Langell Valley Irrigation District, lands fell fallow and property fell from $800 an
acre to $20 an acre, Mr. Wilkinson told the justices.
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