Supreme Court hears lively debate on protecting wetlands, led in part by Justice Jackson
June 16, 2020
June 16, 2020, Greenville, SC – On June 14, 2020, a five-justice majority of the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in South Carolina v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in a case challenging federal authority to build the proposed Charleston Harbor dredge and fill project. The Court’s hearing was led by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. The high court’s oral arguments will cover both the merits of the case, and the potential limits of the Supreme Court’s power to hear a case under the All Writs Act.
The case, which was argued in South Carolina by attorneys Richard Hinton, William S. Pumphrey and Bryan A. Stevenson, was originally brought to the Supreme Court by a group of the residents of Charleston County, who challenged the national Army Corps of Engineers’ plan for dredging and filling the harbor and constructing a new shipping channel and marina to house cruise ships, cargo ships and cargo boats that may be arriving in Charleston Harbor. Under the U.S. Constitution, the federal government has the right to exercise “all Power” over the navigability of the nation’s waterways, and federal “executive power” over the navigation of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is the primary basis of the government’s authority to construct Charleston Harbor dredge and fill, including the proposed dredging and filling within the harbor’s wetlands.
The case in which the federal government is challenging the Charleston Harbor dredge and fill project is South Carolina v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 19-907 (June 15, 2020).
The Charleston Harbor dredge and fill in question is a project for the United States Army Corps of Engineers to address erosion issues caused by the removal of sandblasting and other sedimentary processes from the harbor and the need to remove sediments from areas of the harbor that may