John Rapanos (defendant) was charged in federal court with violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) after backfilling approximately 54 acres of land he owned in Michigan without first obtaining a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). At trial, Rapanos argued that no permit was required because his property was not considered “navigable water” under the CWA. Rapanos claimed that the land was only intermittently saturated with water and not immediately adjacent to navigable water. The nearest body of water was 20 miles away. The district court disagreed, held Rapanos’ property to be “waters of the United States,” and found Rapanos liable for violating the CWA. Rapanos appealed. The court of appeals affirmed the district court’s judgment. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to review.