The Corner

Eye of the Snail Darter

From a reader:

The late great Wade McCree, 6th Circuit judge, Solicitor General of the

U.S., and law professor, wrote the best snail-darter poem.

McCree, known as the Poet Laureate of the Sixth Circuit, used to write

great limericks off the top of his head. He was on the panel in TVA v.

Hill, a case in which the TVA tried to build a dam in violation of the

Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Sixth Circuit said they couldn’t

continue.

McCree wrote:

Who can surpass the snail darter?

The fish that would not be a martyr.

It stymied the dam,

near the place where it swam,

Can you think of a fish any smarter?

The Supreme Court affirmed 7-2. Congress took action and specifically

exempted the dam from the ESA in 1979. The dam went into operation and

the habitat was destroyed, but the next year, the Fish and Wildlife

Service discovered living snail darters, quite non-extinct, in a creek

eighty miles downstream from the dam.

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