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Okay, that would be fun place to find. Realistically, government is all around us and we are subject to a dizzying array of rules, regulations, codes, and taxing schemes. It is unescapable. We can only seek to have less government, the nil state is a nirvana that just isn’t likely to happen, no matter how many motions some litigant’s file.

One thing that can be done is chip away at the breadth and scope of what we agree government can do. That is the heart of the issue in the Sackett case regarding the reach and depth of the EPA’s ability to regulate conduct of landowners when water is involved.

That water that the EPA seeks to regulate has come to be known as WOTUS (Whoa TU US), short for Waters of the United States. The Federal government, seeing everything from a federal point of view took the position that if the water touches the water that they clearly have control over then they get to have control over that water too. The landowners disagreed. The US supreme court, in another ruling that reminds me of middle schoolers forced to work together on a group project, gave some guidance on the issue, which was, hey Feds, it isn’t’ as far as you think it is. But we are still not going to say exactly what because one of our group members had an orthodontist appointment and she had that paragraph. (Okay, the last part is hyperbole, all middle schoolers…er Supreme Court Justices… participated and still puked out a murky, muddy ruling).

Why isn’t it clear on where the federal government stops and where state county and local governments get to say what is what. Easy, because our representatives passed vague laws with no clear guidance to any agency. Why would they do that, simple because they wanted to get something passed and specifics means other voting members of the body might stop and actually consider what it might do to the rubes that send them to Congress. Better to pass a broadly worded bill and leave it to an agency (whose heads and leaderships are routinely swapped like Lego figurine heads with the changing of administrations) to issue rules on what they think the law is. Then when actual stake holders (people who own land and want to use it for example) try to do something with in those rules we will all collectively see if the outcome is anything we all like. Inevitably, we don’t, so we sue and then we let a series of largely unelected and not subject to recall decision makers review limited materials, apply broad political (yes, they are political stop fooling yourself) and philosophical principles to the matter and decide who is right, the agency or the individual.

If this system was pitched on one of those entrepreneurs shows, I don’t think it would get funded, but it is they system that we use and it seems to be doing pretty well by comparison to the tin pot dictatorships, ruling juntas and ancestry-based governments past and current. So do your part, find a federal regulation, and attempt to interpret it, federal lawyers are standing by.

Friday, February 23, 2024
  • Patrick B. Dillon
  • Jill Dillon
  • Tori Beyer
Dillon Law PC
Patrick B. Dillon enjoys finding solutions to legal issues and catching problems for clients. Pat practices in the Sumner office regularly represents clients in district, associate district and magistrate courts for agricultural, real estate, criminal and collection issues. He drafts wills and trusts, creates estate plans and helps clients through the probate process.
Dillon Law PC
Jill is a University of Northern Iowa undergraduate (Political Science Cum Laude) and a Drake University Law School graduate. Jill is a firm owner but not currently accepting private pay clients. Jill still has ties to her family farm operation which includes a dairy herd.
Dillon Law PC
Tori is a University of Iowa undergraduate where she double majored in Criminology, Justice, and Law and Ethics and Public Policy and a North Dakota Law School graduate. Tori practices in the Sumner office. Tori's areas of practice include but are not limited to estate planning, wills/probate, criminal defense, and civil litigation.

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