North Idaho Couple Celebrates Property Rights Victory

Mar 21, 2012

A north Idaho couple is celebrating a major legal victory at the nation's highest court. Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Mike and Chantell Sackett have the right to challenge a decision by federal regulators that their property is a protected wetland. 

Since 2007, Mike and Chantell Sackett have been trying to build a house on a .63 acre lot they own at Priest Lake, Idaho. But the Environmental Protect Agency said the lot is on a wetland and ordered the couple to stop construction.

The Supreme Court decision now gives the Sacketts the right to take the EPA to court. After five years, it's a legal win Mike Sackett says he and his wife are savoring. "I jumped up and yelled and screamed and hugged my wife," Sackett says. "It was emotional. I'm stuttering because it's overwhelming."

Environmental groups, home builders and corporations watched the case closely. The EPA had argued a ruling in the Sacketts' favor could gum up wetland enforcement orders. The court rejected that argument in a unanimous opinion penned by Justice Antonin Scalia.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network