Cases & Deals

Law professors succeed as amici curiae in major environmental case before U.S. Supreme Court

Clients Law Professors

Jones Day filed an amicus brief on behalf of eight law professors in Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center, __ U.S. __, No. 11-338 (Mar. 20, 2013), an important environmental law case. The petitioners in the case challenged the Ninth Circuit’s determination that forest roads are "point sources" of discharge subject to effluent limitations under the Clean Water Act.  Jones Day's brief argued that the Environmental Protection Agency's longstanding position, that forest roads are not subject to such limitations, was entitled to judicial deference.  In ruling for the petitioners, the Supreme Court accepted Jones Day's argument, concluding that it was appropriate to defer to EPA's position, in part because "there is no indication that its current view is a change from prior practice or a post hoc justification adopted in response to litigation. . . The opposite is the case. The agency has been consistent in its view that the types of discharges at issue here do not require NPDES permits."   

In a special concurrence, Chief Justice Roberts cited Jones Day's brief and observed that the deference issue it presented "is a basic one going to the heart of administrative law, and arises "as a matter of course on a regular basis," and suggested that the Court might be willing to reconsider the entire framework of the issue in an appropriate case.  But, Jones Day's brief apparently gave the Court comfort that this was not the case in which to do that--leading to victory for the side we supported. 

Brian J. Murray, Yaakov Roth, Kevin P. Holewinski, Charles T. Wehland, and Thomas V. Skinner were all on Jones Day's brief for the law professors.

Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center, __ U.S. __, No. 11-338 (Mar. 20, 2013)

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