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National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense

138 S. Ct. 617 (2018)

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National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense

United States Supreme Court

138 S. Ct. 617 (2018)

Facts

In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) within the Department of Defense (collectively, the government) (defendants) promulgated the Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS Rule). The government cited § 1361(a) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) as its authority to promulgate the rule. Section 1361(a) granted the government the authority to issue regulations necessary to execute the CWA. The WOTUS Rule was intended to clarify the phrase “waters of the United States” by listing which waters were clearly included and excluded as waters of the United States and which waters were case-specific. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and several other parties (plaintiffs) filed actions in federal courts challenging the WOTUS Rule. Some actions, including NAM’s action, were filed in federal district courts. Other actions were filed directly in the federal circuit courts. The federal circuit actions were consolidated and transferred to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. NAM intervened in the consolidated suit and moved to dismiss the case because the circuit court lacked jurisdiction. The government opposed the motion on the ground that §§ 1369(b)(1)(E) and (F) granted the circuit courts exclusive jurisdiction to review challenges to the WOTUS Rule. The government claimed that the WOTUS Rule imposed an effluent or other limitation on the pollutants that could be discharged from point sources into navigable waters and, essentially, issued or denied permits to discharge pollutants into certain waters because it clarified which waters were under the CWA’s jurisdiction. The circuit court denied the motion to dismiss on the ground that it had exclusive jurisdiction to consider the WOTUS Rule challenges. The matter of jurisdiction was appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sotomayor, J.)

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