Word-o-the-Day: “Sweetheart Lawsuit”
We learned this new phrase while researching the current threat to Arkansans’ private property rights that stems from the USFWS’ designation of critical habitat for the Neosho mucket and Rabbitsfoot mussel.
In 2009 and 2010, WildEarth Guardians filed ten injunctive suits against the Secretary of the Interior, saying he “failed to comply with a statutory duty to make 12-month findings on petitions made by WildEarth Guardians to list 12 species as threatened or endangered under the ESA….”
Another federal suit against the Secretary of the Interior failing to “comply with a statutory duty to make 12-month findings on petitions made by the CBD to list over 500 species as threatened or endangered….”
“…court granted plaintiffs’ (CBD) motion finding that the potential use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques in future well development had a “reasonably close causal relationship” to the action at issue even though single well development had been the norm in the past…BLM’s environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact were erroneous as a matter of law. Rather than determining a remedy, the court ordered the parties to meet and confer and submit an appropriate judgment….”
A sweetheart lawsuit is when a federal agency and outside group that have similar points of view on a particular issue agree to have the outside group sue the agency, thus moving specific policy items directly into law and circumventing Congressional action via the resulting court orders, rulings, and precedents.
“We have a two-tiered regulatory process,” says William Kovacs, the U.S. Chamber’s Senior Vice President for Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs.
One process — conducted openly in public — is where federal agencies release proposed rules and public comments are solicited as part of a regulatory approval timeline.
Progressives are using the other process — commonly called “sue and settle” via sweetheart lawsuits — to keep the general public (and those affected by the new regulations) in the dark about their continued encroachments on our property rights until final court orders are announced.
Ron Arnold of the Washington Examiner puts it this way:
…big Green activist group files suit against agency, agency negotiates chummy back-room settlement with the lawyers, then gets sham settlement rubber-stamped by federal court and bypassing a trial completely.
…allows lawyers for Big Green groups to walk into any EPA office and say, “We want this exact rule in place within 90 days,” and get a response something like, “Sure, pal. Anything else?”
Arkansas is currently tangled in the wake of a sweetheart lawsuit about the Neosho mucket and Rabbitsfoot mussel that affects private property rights across almost half (42%) of our state. It’s not the first, nor the last; at least 40 more sweetheart lawsuits that will affect Arkansas property owners are already in progress.
Do you care about private property rights? Do you own your property or do the Center for Biological Diversity and the courts?
Contact your county’s justices of the peace and tell them to protect our private property rights. Fight back against these dangerous sweetheart lawsuits before it’s too late and you lose the right to use your property as you choose!