AUSTIN – The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF)’s Center for the American Future representing Williamson County resident John Yearwood and Williamson County, Texas today filed suit to intervene into the pending lawsuit seeking delisting of the Bone-Cave Harvestman from the Endangered Species Act. Mr. Yearwood and Williamson County, Texas challenge the authority of the federal government to use the Interstate Commerce Clause to regulate non-commercial interactions with the Bone Cave Harvestman arachnid, which only exists in two central Texas counties, is not bought nor traded in interstate commerce, and does not otherwise affect interstate commerce.

“This lawsuit centers around respect for the rule of law and recognition that the Constitution establishes our federal government as having limited, enumerated powers,” said Robert Henneke, director of the Center for the American Future at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “Congress has the power to regulate commerce among the states, i.e. Interstate commerce. Congress’ Commerce power through the Endangered Species Act should not, therefore, extend to regulate the Bone-Cave Harvestman species – an intrastate cave-arachnid existing only in caves in Central Texas without any commercial value. For there to be rule of law, there must be limits to government power.”

"This land has been in my family for over one-hundred years,” said John Yearwood, Intervenor-Plantiff in the lawsuit. “It is land that my children and grandchildren will enjoy. I would like to share my property with the local 4-H club, so that children can enjoy the outdoors, camping, and marksmanship. This should not violate any federal rules nor subject me to the risk of criminal penalties. Camping isn’t commerce.”

“As an elected County Commissioner, I have an obligation to provide efficient services to our taxpayers,” said Williamson County Commissioner Valerie Covey. “The Endangered Species Act regulation of the Bone-Cave Harvestman adds an extra layer of cost and red-tape at the expense of the taxpayer. At the end of the day, this arachnid only lives in Texas. Under the Constitution, it is the state and county, not the federal government, which is best suited to address conservation at the local level."
"Every dollar that we spend taking care of this arachnid is money that could be spent on services for the citizens of Williamson County,” said Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long. “We have an obligation to be good stewards of taxpayer resources. Williamson County taxpayers should not have to pay the cost of complying with federal regulation of a species that exists only locally."
To download a copy of the Complaint, visit:
To schedule an interview with Mr. Henneke, please contact Caroline Espinosa at [email protected] or 512-472-2700. 

The Honorable Robert Henneke is the Director of the Foundation’s Center for the American Future. Henneke is a member of the State Bar of Texas and is admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit as well as all Texas Federal District Courts. He is also a proud Eagle Scout.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin, Texas.

Find us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter