One of the web’s most highly trafficked legal blogs, SCOTUSblog, spotlighted Washington Legal Foundation’s work on behalf of an Idaho farmer as the site’s “Petition of the Day.” SCOTUSblog chooses petitions to featured based on whether it “rais(es) one or more questions that have a reasonable chance of being granted in an appropriate case.”
The case is King v. United States. To ensure that he had sufficient water to keep his crops alive in the summer, Idaho farmer Cory King injected melting snow into his irrigation wells. His failure to obtain a permit for this common practice resulted in a stiff fine paid to Idaho regulators. But that wasn’t sufficient for an ambitious federal prosecutor, who charged Mr. King with a felony violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act, even though the wells were neither near drinking water nor contained pollutants. Two federal courts upheld his unjust conviction.
On February 2, WLF asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review and ultimately overturn Mr. King’s conviction on the grounds that the prosecution violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and that the courts improperly found that Mr. King made a material false statement. There is currently a split among the federal circuits over the latter issue, which is widely viewed as a significant factor favoring Supreme Court review.