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The Supreme Court has narrowed the scope of the Clean Water Act

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen on May 16.
Alex Brandon
The U.S. Supreme Court is seen on May 16.

The U.S. Supreme Court placed new restrictions on the scope of the jurisdiction the Clean Water Act has over wetlands, ruling in favor of Idaho landowners who had challenged the law.

The court was unanimous in finding that the land owned by the Idaho family was not subject to the Clean Water Act, but split 5-4 on the court's new test, which held that only wetlands that have a continuous surface connection to a body of water are covered by the law.

Conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh sided with the court's three liberals. He wrote the "courts new test will leave some long-regulated adjacent wetlands no longer covered by the Clean Water Act, with significant repercussions for water quality and flood control throughout the United States."

In a second opinion, the court unanimously ruled for an octogenarian resident of Hennepin County, Minn., whose home was seized by the county for a failure to pay taxes. The county sold the home for more than the amount she owed, and the court ruled that authorities violated her Fifth Amendment rights because she was not properly compensated.
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Nina Totenberg is NPR's award-winning legal affairs correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR's critically acclaimed newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.