I guess people need to understand the posture of this case. The EPA was not a party but an intervenor seeking to protect its view of how its regulations are interpreted.
In this case, an environmental group thought that a logging company was violating EPA regulations under the Clean Water Act. The EPA disagreed and refused to go after the logging company. When the EPA refuses to take action, the Clean Water Act allows a private citizen (or group) to bring an action against the violator. Here, the environmental group did just that.
At the trial court, the EPA intervened and argued that the rule didn't apply (siding with the logging company). The trial court disagreed and found that the rule did apply. The 9th circuit affirmed.
The Supreme Court reversed and held that an agencies interpretations of its own regulations are entitled to pretty strong deference. Even though the EPA rule facially would have made the conduct of the logging company violative of the regulation, if the EPA wanted to read that rule in some other way they could.
Right before the argument, the EPA changed its rule so that it was clear that the conduct that occurred in this case was not subject to the rule.
Scalia would have affirmed. He doesn't believe an agency is entitled to deference on its own regulations and would apply what the regulation says. The regulation says that the timber company should have been liable, so he would hold them liable. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, in a concurring opinion, said they might agree with Scalia but that this was not a good case to change 50 years of law where the parties only asked them to do so in a footnote.
I really see no bitch slap here.
This post was edited on 3/21 at 10:51 am