Takings Clause

Threat Assessment: The Supreme Court & the Environment

The current bench is tilted against environmental regulation. It could get worse.

In September, Take Back the Court issued a study entitled, “The Roberts Court Would Likely Strike Down Climate Change Legislation.”  In my view, that’s too alarmist. But the current conservative majority definitely will be an obstacle to aggressive use of government regulation.  That could hold true well into the 2030s, depending on who leaves the …

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When is a Flood a Government Taking?

Should the feds be liable for flooding during Hurricane Harvey?

A federal statute bars nearly all claims against the federal government for flooding.  Victims of flooding from Hurricane Harvey seem to have found a loophole by claiming that their property was taken without just compensation by flooding.  The facts are unusual, but the case raises some deep questions about financial responsibility for flood control. Here …

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Holmes, Brandeis, and the ‘Great Ponds’ Debate

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 …

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Supreme Court Takes a Knick Out of Regulatory Takings Law

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 …

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Roy Cohn Meets The Takings Clause

Sleeper Supreme Court Case Could Upend Environmental Regulations

“I don’t want to know what the law says. I want to know who the judge is.” — Roy M. Cohn Roy Cohn was one of the most disgusting figures of 20th century American law, whose red-baiting and homophobia were exceeded in awfulness only by his mentoring of Donald Trump. But when it comes to …

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Contentious California Beach Access Case Heads to U.S. Supreme Court

Longstanding Martins Beach Controversy May Well Capture Justices’ Attention

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018-19 Term is already shaping up as a big one for environmental law in general and the longstanding tension between private property rights and environmental regulation in particular.  The Court has already agreed to hear and decide two cases next Term raising the latter set of issues: one involves the question …

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The Anthropocene and private law

Areas such as torts and property will face significant challenges

I’ve posted about how the Anthropocene will see major changes in how humans affect our planet, and how those changes will have major impacts on human society, triggering substantially larger interventions by the legal system in a wide range of individual behavior.  In this post, I want to spin out some of the implications of …

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A Major Defeat for Property Rights Advocates

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 …

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Fencelines

The Supreme Court rules on how to define a parcel of property under the Constitution

The Supreme Court ruled today on Murr v. Wisconsin, a takings case that could have potentially had a major effect on land use regulation.  The Supreme Court has ruled that a “taking” of private property exists if the state prohibits all economically beneficial use  of property.  Naturally, lawyers have gleefully litigated the question of how …

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It’s Environmental Law Week at the California Supreme Court

Justices to Hear Oral Arguments in Three Major Environmental Cases This Week

The California Supreme Court currently has approximately twenty pending environmental cases on its docket.  This week, the Court’s justices will hear oral arguments in three of the most important of those cases.  Taken together, these looming decisions raise important issues concerning the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), federal preemption, climate change mitigation and adaptation, private …

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