Supreme Court Ruling Stands to Strengthen Private Property Rights
June 25, 2019
On Friday, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in the case of Knick v. Township of Scott, a decision which NAR believes will lead state and local governments to be more thoughtful and deliberate when developing laws or regulations that could infringe on Americans’ private property rights.
Specifically, Knick v. Township of Scott declared that plaintiffs who have accused local governments of violating the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution may proceed directly in federal court rather than first litigating in local circuits, overturning a 34-year old precedent set by a 1985 Supreme Court ruling.
“A property owner has an actionable Fifth Amendment takings claim when the government takes his property without paying for it,” the Court’s opinion reads. “The Fifth Amendment right to full compensation arises at the time of the taking, regardless of post-taking remedies that may be available to the property owner. In sum, because a taking without compensation violates the self-executing Fifth Amendment at the time of the taking, the property owner can bring a federal suit at that time.”
As many Realtors® are aware, property owners had previously been required to exhaust all remedies to receive just compensation for private property seizure in state court before they could escalate the case to federal court.
Going forward, property owners will have both state and federal court available to redress their property rights. NAR expects this new development to prompt state and local governments to be more strategic regarding takings, especially in the areas of land use planning and environmental regulations, in order to avoid the uncertainty of litigation in federal court. Considerations surrounding compensation should intensify and increase, as well.