Some issues are perennial, like property rights v. public rights in water.
I suppose most of you, like me, have never heard of the Watuppa Ponds. But in 1888, a battle broke out over the legality of their use to supply drinking water for a nearby city. The issue closely divided Massachusetts’s highest court, and led to a heated debate in the recently launched Harvard Law Review …CONTINUE READING
How a conservative Court defended environmental protection a century ago.
Like today’s Court, the Supreme Court a century ago was dominated by conservatives. The Lochner era, from around 1900 to 1935, was named after the most notorious case of that period. The Lochner case, which struck down a maximum hours law for workers, epitomized the conservative Supreme Court of that era. Yet that conservative Court …CONTINUE READING
Justices Curb Ripeness Rule; Open Federal Courts to Takings Litigation
In the final, major environmental law decision of its current Term, the U.S. Supreme Court handed property rights advocates a major victory while repudiating an important regulatory takings precedent the Court had itself fashioned and announced 34 years ago. The case is Knick v. Township of Scott. By a narrow 5-4 vote that split …CONTINUE READING
Hardly anyone noticed a decision last June limiting the rights of property owners against regulators.
Murr v. Wisconsin was a sleeper case decided by the Supreme Court last June. But it deserves a lot more attention than it has gotten. As I discuss in a new paper, Murr was a major defeat for property rights advocates and a big win for land use planners and environmentalists. Murr has escaped much …CONTINUE READING
Justices Reject Property Owners’ “Regulatory Takings” Challenge to Seawall Permit Condition
The California Supreme Court today issued its long-awaited decision in Lynch v. California Coastal Commission, rejecting a lawsuit brought by San Diego beachfront homeowners claiming that permit conditions imposed by the Coastal Commission triggered a compensable taking of their private property rights. Writing for a unanimous Court, Justice Carol Corrigan concluded that the homeowners had forfeited …CONTINUE READING
Will Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Prompt Long-Awaited Decision in Key Property Rights Case?
In his wide-ranging, long-awaited and (to put it mildly) colorful press conference last week, President Trump promised to announce his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court within two weeks of taking the oath of office. On this pledge, at least, I believe him. Indeed, I’ll be surprised if he waits that long. Senate Republicans refused to …CONTINUE READING
Constitutional Issues Loom Large in Future, Likely Federal-California Legal Confrontations
Sensing political storm clouds ahead, California Governor Jerry Brown yesterday issued a statement on the presidential election results that concludes: “We will protect the precious rights of our people and continue to confront the existential threat of our time–devastating climate change.” Several of my Legal Planet colleagues have recently posted thoughtful commentary on what Donald Trump’s …CONTINUE READING
Nation’s Top Annual Takings Event Set for November 4th in New Orleans
One of the most important issues in modern environmental law and policy is the extent to which constitutionally-protected property rights limit environmental regulatory programs at the federal, state and local levels. Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court has focused more attention on this question over the last four decades than any other aspect of modern environmental …CONTINUE READING
Docket so far limited to a significant takings case, Murr v. Wisconsin
So far, the docket for the U.S. Supreme Court’s term beginning in October includes no significant statutory environmental case. It does include an important takings case that could limit or expand the land use powers of all levels of government to protect wetlands, endangered species habitat, and other ecologically sensitive parcels. Whether the Court ultimately …CONTINUE READING
Justices Deny Review of California Supreme Court Decision Upholding San Jose Measure
Advocates of the City of San Jose’s controversial inclusionary housing ordinance, which was upheld in a 2015 California Supreme Court decision, are breathing a sigh of relief this week. That’s because the U.S. Supreme Court has denied the California Building Industry Association’s petition for certiorari in the case. But the available evidence suggests that the High Court …CONTINUE READING