In 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) decided to limit the amount of water that could be pumped into California's central valley canal system in an effort to protect the endangered Delta Smelt. As a result, thousands of small businesses were unable to attain water to support their operations. Farmers were the hardest hit.
In this case a local small businessman, who had suffered tremendous losses as result of FWS's decision, challenged FWS's power to enforce water restrictions. The Ninth Circuit ultimately rejected his arguments, upholding FWS's power to impose water restrictions under the federal commerce power. The NFIB Legal Center then filed in support of the businessman as he sought review in the U.S. Supreme Court. We urged the court to grant a petition for certiorari and to make clear that the federal commerce power cannot justify regulation of a purely intrastate species.
Status: Decided - Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeal.
Petition for certiorari denied in the U.S. Supreme Court.