Stop Regulating Private Land: Supreme Court agrees to hear Alaska appeal

UPDATE (June 18, 2018): The Supreme Court announced today it will once again hear oral argument in this case. As SLF explained in its Sturgeon I amicus brief, the unilateral expansion of the administrative state must be stopped. The federal government seems intent on grabbing jurisdiction over all bodies of water in our country and has employed not only the EPA and Army Corps, but also the National Park Service. The issues presented in this case are important to not only the People of Alaska, but to all property owners.

UPDATE (Oct. 2, 2017): Today the Ninth Circuit affirmed its prior ruling and awarded the National Park Service unfettered jurisdiction over the water at issue in the case holding that the federal government may seize control of all bodies of water where it may need to protect fish at some unspecified date in the future.

UPDATE (Mar. 28, 2016): In a win for property rights, the Supreme Court found the National Park Service’s interpretation of Section 103(c) of the Alaska National Interest Conservation Act “inconsistent with both the text and context of the statute as a whole,” vacating the judgment and remanding the case back to the Ninth Circuit. The lower court must now address a number of issues including whether the land and waters at issue qualify as “public land” for purposes of the statute and the extent of the National Park Service’s authority to regulate the lands and waters at issue.

WASHINGTON, DC: Our Founding Fathers sought to create a government structure limited in nature - one that delegated few and defined powers to the federal government. The authority administrative agencies now hold over all aspects of our lives is startling and would leave the Founders in dismay. Every day we see some federal agency fighting to infiltrate every aspect of our lives, even those which Congress specifically prohibits it from reaching.

On multiple occasions, Congress expressly declined to grant the National Park Service authority to exercise jurisdiction over private and state lands and waters that happen to lie within Alaska’s national parks and preserves. Ignoring Congress’s explicit prohibition, the National Park Service authorized armed federal agents to board the boat of Mr. Sturgeon, a 75-year old man simply traveling along a state river, and prohibit him from continuing his journey.

Recognizing that his rights were trampled upon, Mr. Sturgeon filed suit challenging the National Park Service’s claim of extraterritorial jurisdiction and after many years the case have now arrived at the Supreme Court. Southeastern Legal Foundation filed an amicus brief supporting Mr. Sturgeon because this is yet another example of the Executive Branch’s unconstitutional usurpation of power through creation of an expansive administrative state.

The Obama Administration has grown the administrative state through the expansion of existing agencies’ jurisdiction – even when Congress expressly denies it those powers. This is of prime concern to SLF because expansion of administrative jurisdiction raise serious constitutional concerns and in the case of Mr. Sturgeon violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.

Click here for U.S. Supreme Court decision

WASHINGTON, DC/ATLANTA, GA (Nov. 30, 2015): Southeastern Legal Foundation today filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the unconstitutional executive overreach by the National Park Service (NPS), which is specifically forbidden from regulating private lands and waters that happen to lie within Alaska's national parks and preserves. Congress specifically declined to grant the NPS authority under the Property Clause and Commerce Clause of the Constitution, yet NPS is doing just that. The brief is filed at the merits stage, which means the high court will consider the case in the coming months. Sturgeon v. Frost, et al., No. 14-1209.

Click here for SLF's legal brief

  • https://www.facebook.com/southeaster
  • twitter.com/slf_liberty
  • White Instagram Icon

© Southeastern Legal Foundation, 501(c)3,  Copyright 2017

Contact Us

Tel: 770.977.2131



Southeastern Legal Foundation

560 West Crossville Rd., Suite 104

Roswell, Georgia 30075