On October 31, 2011, the United States Supreme Court rejected a petition for certiorari by several San Joaquin Valley farm companies in Stewart & Jasper Orchards v. Salazar, et al., a case partially consolidated with the Delta Smelt Consolidated Cases.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had previously rejected an argument by Stewart & Jasper Orchards, Arroyo Farms, LLC, and King Pistachio Grove that application of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) violated the Commerce Clause. The Ninth Circuit determined that "the protection of threatened or endangered species implicates economic concerns." Accordingly, the lower appellate court rejected the farm companies' argument that Congress lacked the authority to impose environmental restrictions under the ESA because the delta smelt were strictly an intrastate species. Yesterday's Supreme Court's decision leaves the Ninth Circuit's earlier ruling intact.
If you have any questions concerning this matter, please contact Rebecca R. Akroyd or the KMTG attorney with whom you normally consult.
Additional coverage may be found on the Pacific Legal Foundation's website.