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Abstract

The first environmental case before the United States Supreme Court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Sturgeon v. Frost, involved the National Park Service’s authority to regulate hovercraft use over a segment of river running through lands under its authority pursuant to the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The plaintiff sought to show that the State held title to navigable waters within the State, and that, therefore, the National Park Service did not have authority to enforce its regulation. The parties invoked precedent and argued for textual analysis of the at-issue statute, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit forged its own interpretation of the statute to find for the National Park Service. On review, the United States Supreme Court invalidated the Ninth Circuit’s holding as incongruous with the context of the statute. However, despite a sufficient record, the Court did not articulate the correct interpretation, suggesting a Court hesitant to risk plurality.