To quote my Constitutional Law professor, G. Michael Fenner, “it’s about power.”

Last month, Cockle Printing filed two petitions for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court: Wyoming v. USDA, et al., and Colorado Mining Association v. USDA, et al.

[The Court has vided these cases at: 11-1378 and 11-1384, respectively]. Petitioners asked whether the United States Forest Service usurped Congress’s authority to designate wilderness areas by promulgating the “Roadless Rule.”

The Rule generally prohibits road construction and timber extraction on national forest lands designated by Congress as “wilderness.” According to Colorado Mining Association’s (CMA) petition, the purpose of the Rule “is to conserve and protect desirable characteristics of inventoried roadless areas, including…scenic quality, cultural properties, and conservation of soil, water, air, wildlife habitat and wildlife diversity.” However, CMA argues, “with the Roadless Rule, the USDA established a massive 58.5 million acres of land as de facto wilderness. That amount of land is equal in size to the states of Connecticut, two Delawares, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, two Rhode Islands and Vermont combined.”

Petitioners claim that “with the Roadless Rule, the Forest Service accomplished what only Congress can do – [designate] forest lands as wilderness.” They point to an extensive line of Supreme Court case law in an attempt to demonstrate that Executive Branch agencies like the USDA have only those powers conferred by Congress. Amici parties have argued that certiorari should be granted to clarify the extent to which Congress has delegated its power to the Forest Service, if not more broadly to determine the limits of Executive Branch rulemaking authority. The Court has given the U.S. Solicitor General until July 18th to explain why, as Wyoming and CMA demand, “agencies may rely on their general rulemaking authority to duplicate an authority that is clearly vested solely with Congress.”

June 18th was the due date for amici filings in support of the Petitioners. Here are some of the amici briefs filed by Cockle Printing:

Coalition of Local Governments

Mountain States Legal Foundation, et al

Ass’n Representing the Interests of Mining, Cattle and Western Business

Wyoming County Commissioners Ass’n, et al

Blue Ribbon Coalition, et al

Western Energy Alliance