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Thread: Sturgeon, Wilde and the State appeal decisions on waterway rights

  1. #81
    Member ChugiakTinkerer's Avatar
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    Not a lawyer and don't read transcripts much, but it certainly seemed well argued by Sturgeon and the State. I hope it's just my unfamiliarity with this kind of argument, or perhaps rhetorical effect by the justices, but are the Supreme Court justices really that dense? How many times did they rehash whether Coast Guard had jurisdiction over navigable waters?

    Edit to add: My bad, meant to start off with a thank you for posting the link to the transcript.

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    While I'm loathe to critique any attorneys who are admitted before the SCOTUS (I'm not), I had two takeaways:

    - On paper (which may or may not reflect the ambiance and atmosphere before the Court), it appeared that the government had a more polished argument; both sides were able to outline (IMO) the points supporting their view of things, but the government seemed just a bit more polished.
    - I'm likely biased, but I thought the political leanings of the Justices were discernible from their questions.
    ...a third take-away: Oral argument (and the Court's questions therein) may or may not carry equal weight to the analysis of the briefs, but it's a bit troubling to have one of the Justices not be entirely familiar with the term "inholding": as best I know, that's a term of art fairly commonly and consistently used in public lands and related disputes. I'm sure that there are several clerks busily researching and drafting memoranda for the Justice and one of those clerks probably is tasked with a topic-specific memorandum on "What is an Inholding"

  3. #83

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    Having had the great pleasure and honor to sit in the hearing and listen to the oral arguments, my impression was that the justices felt that the federal attorney and the 9th Circuit were out to lunch. It was obvious that they believe the 9th Circuit ruling was way off the mark and the feds spent 49 pages of their brief trying to justify other reasons for why they think they are correct and only one paragraph supporting the 9th circuit decision. I'm optimistic that Sturgeon and Alaska will prevail!
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  4. #84
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    Right on Mel, sounds like you're having fun with this historic event.

    Quote Originally Posted by Halibutgrove View Post
    Having had the great pleasure and honor to sit in the hearing and listen to the oral arguments, my impression was that the justices felt that the federal attorney and the 9th Circuit were out to lunch. It was obvious that they believe the 9th Circuit ruling was way off the mark and the feds spent 49 pages of their brief trying to justify other reasons for why they think they are correct and only one paragraph supporting the 9th circuit decision. I'm optimistic that Sturgeon and Alaska will prevail!

  5. #85
    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Saw the statement this morning! good news, good decision, from what I read they didn't pigeon hole this case too much, now for a long time Alaska rivers belong to the state!

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    I'd suggest some caution in taking too much joy in this decision. The Court ruled on a pretty narrow issue of statutory and regulatory interplay and interpretation.....I'd say on that issue that the Court reached the only logical and realistic result.....that ANILCA's provisions are not subordinate to other existing DoI regulations.

    That being said, the key issue (key risk depending on one's view) was left untouched: Are the waters state or federal waters? Closely related: What are the limits of state sovereignty and if the state has title to the submerged land, does that exempt the waters from being public land under ANILCA? Suspect that NPS might promptly file a new suit related to determining ownership and jurisdiction over the relevant rivers, questions that were explicitly not addressed by the Court.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa12drvr View Post
    I'd suggest some caution in taking too much joy in this decision. The Court ruled on a pretty narrow issue of statutory and regulatory interplay and interpretation.....I'd say on that issue that the Court reached the only logical and realistic result.....that ANILCA's provisions are not subordinate to other existing DoI regulations.

    That being said, the key issue (key risk depending on one's view) was left untouched: Are the waters state or federal waters? Closely related: What are the limits of state sovereignty and if the state has title to the submerged land, does that exempt the waters from being public land under ANILCA? Suspect that NPS might promptly file a new suit related to determining ownership and jurisdiction over the relevant rivers, questions that were explicitly not addressed by the Court.
    I see that now, however I would point out that the court did state that the statutory language on ANILCA should be used not a interpretation (what the 9th circuit had done). So while the War is not over this was a HUGE Victory, the lower courts were pretty much told how to rule on this case.

    2 things to remember are:
    1) its common to have unanimous decisions in the supreme court (we just hear about the close ones normally)
    2) its common for the Supreme court to send cases back to lower courts with a statement on how to rule.


    Its not over yet (NPS has said they will continue to fight this) But the state has gotten a big victory.

  9. #89
    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKducks View Post
    I see that now, however I would point out that the court did state that the statutory language on ANILCA should be used not a interpretation (what the 9th circuit had done). So while the War is not over this was a HUGE Victory, the lower courts were pretty much told how to rule on this case.

    2 things to remember are:
    1) its common to have unanimous decisions in the supreme court (we just hear about the close ones normally)
    2) its common for the Supreme court to send cases back to lower courts with a statement on how to rule.


    Its not over yet (NPS has said they will continue to fight this) But the state has gotten a big victory.
    I don't read the court's decision as a statement to the lower court "on how to rule". All they said, really, was that the lower court had misinterpreted the statute, and they stopped there. They didn't themselves offer any alternate interpretation. Outside the sphere of public media spin, I don't think the state will be celebrating this one yet.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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  10. #90
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    In some ways you are right.
    iofthetaiga:

    ANILCA defines the word "land" to include "lands, waters, and interests therein," and the term "public lands" to include "lands the title towhich is in the United States after December 2, 1980," with certain exceptions. §3102. In sum, only "lands,waters, and interests therein" to which the United States has "title" are considered "public" land "included as aportion" of the conservation system units in Alaska.

    but it is ultimately inconsistent with both the text and context of the statute as a whole. Statutory language "cannot be construed in a vacuum. It is a fundamental canon of statutory construction that the words of a statute must be read in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme."


    Those are a couple quotes from the Supreme court ruling. The ruling pretty much says: "you have to rule on the statutory explanation of public land, and you cannot say generally federal rules overrule this act"


    but the statutory explanation of "public land" and "land" are pretty clear in the States favor, the supreme court wants the lower courts to rule on this first (pretty common supreme court rulings are much harder to overturn then the lower courts ones).

    so yes the court didn't tell the lower court how to rule but they said what they have to use to rule. I'll talk to my sister-in-law who has a law degree what her understanding on this is and let you know what I find out.

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    Couple of things.....


    "......who has a law degree": One never knows who might have a law degree and who might have even practiced law for a while.

    "......its common for the Supreme court to send cases back to lower courts with a statement on how to rule.": I guess that this statement, narrowly construed is accurate. The more accurate statement is that the Court regularly sends cases back to the appellate court for proceedings "...consistent with this opinion." I'm not admitted before SCOTUS and have been out of the litigation game for a while, but it's pretty rare for the SCOTUS to directly mandate a result....even when "proceedings consistent with this opinion" can only lead to one reasonable result.

    It is correct that the Court provided the guidelines for determining several important questions but what shouldn't be lost in celebrating this decision (it's not bad, just not an overwhelming lockdown victory for the State of AK) is that the Court explicitly stated that they didn't reach or address several of the key questions. If the 9th Circuit can come back with a cohesive ruling that, under consideration of ANILCA and the statutory construction used/required by the Court, addressed those questions (i.e. states that the waters are "public land"), there's nothing in this opinion (IMNSHO) that would trump such a cohesive ruling. Whether the 9th Circuit can get there is an entirely different matter.

    ....but who the heck knows. Whatever the ultimate end result turns out to be depends a lot more on the intent and energy of the NPS and the Sturgeon parties than on this one ruling.
    Back in AK

  12. #92
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    The panel held that ANILCA section 103(c) did not limit the Park Service from applying the hovercraft ban...

    ...On remand from the United States Supreme Court, the panel again concluded that the federal government properly regulated hovercraft use on the Nation River in the Yukon-Charley preserve.
    http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastor...2/13-36165.pdf
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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    Back to SCOTUS, the 9th telling SCOTUS they don't know what they are talking about should go over well.
    "Now you know, and knowing is half the battle." - G.I. Joe

  14. #94
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    Man that AKducks character really doesn't know what he's talking about!

    Hopefully the Supreme Court overturns this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKducks View Post
    Man that AKducks character really doesn't know what he's talking about!

    Hopefully the Supreme Court overturns this.
    Hopefully Mr. Sturgeon has the funds and backing for this to again reach the supreme court.
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  16. #96
    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannerAK View Post
    Hopefully Mr. Sturgeon has the funds and backing for this to again reach the supreme court.
    It's highly unlikely that he and the AOC have suddenly become estranged.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
    I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
    The last thing Alaska needs is another bigot. ~member Catch It

  17. #97
    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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  18. #98
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    And the fight continues
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