Earlier this week, the Supreme Court ruled that federal district courts, rather than appellate courts, are the proper venue to challenge the "Waters of the United States" ("WOTUS") Rule (discussed in a previous blog post here), an Obama-era regulation that expansively defined waters subject to Clean Water Act jurisdiction. Following the Supreme Court decision, the Eleventh Circuit on Wednesday vacated its 2015 decision which held the opposite. In doing so, it also remanded a challenge to the WOTUS Rule brought by a coalition of states (led by Georgia) in 2015 in the federal district court in Brunswick, Georgia.
The case in the Southern District of Georgia involved a coalition of eleven states seeking to halt the implementation of the WOTUS Rule. In denying the states' motion for a preliminary injunction, the district court found that federal appellate courts were the proper venue to challenge the rule. Once the petitioners appealed the case to the Eleventh Circuit, however, the case was temporarily suspended in order to await ongoing litigation in other circuits, which eventually resulted in the Supreme Court decision earlier this week.
The remand means that the Southern District of Georgia will now consider whether to halt the rule's implementation. Other federal district courts around the nation are also returning to similar challenges that were awaiting the Supreme Court's decision.
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