With apologies to lily pads, the U.S. Supreme Court may or may not be a happy landing place for the dusky gopher frog.
Justices recently quizzed lawyers about whether the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was requiring "reasonable" efforts by landowners to protect the St. Tammany Parish habitat of the small, reclusive amphibian. The landowners in question don't think so, having fought a legal case against the agency all the way up to the great marble swamp of Washington.
With four justices tending to lean left, and four tending to lean right, a prospective 4-4 split might mean the case will be re-argued later, but it might also mean that the court will just divide on the case and let the lower court rulings stand. Landowners say those rulings will cost them large amounts of money to restore the frog's breeding habitats, including restoring some longleaf pine forests long ago cut down for more profitable trees.
All that might change, though, if President Donald Trump and the U.S. Senate leaders succeed in gaining conservative-leaning Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the vacant ninth seat.
Even down in Louisiana, the unfilled seat has an impact.