In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a long-standing precedent to allow property owners to go directly to federal court if they feel that state and local regulations are depriving landowners of the use of their property. The decision was sharply divided with all five of the court’s conservatives voting for the ruling in a 5-4 split. This ruling could become particularly relevant to landholders in the Silver State where property owners fiercely defend the rights to their own land.
In his majority opinion on this ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts summed the issue up succinctly when he said, “A bank robber might give the loot back, but he still robbed the bank.” Essentially, the Court held that the government violates the Constitution when it takes private property without first paying for it.
Liberal Justice Elena Kagan, on the other hand, was one of the dissenting voices in the Court. Her biggest argument centered around abiding by precedent and that the ruling would, “channel a mass of quintessentially local cases involving complex state-law issues into federal courts.” So essentially, because it’s been done that way for decades and there would be more cases for the Court to consider, we should just continue to allow the government to use our land for its own purposes on a “promise to pay” basis.
This is simply ridiculous. If I purchase land, I expect to be able to use that land. Having to jump through additional hoops to get the rights back to my own land, or at the very least to get recompense when the government uses my land is outrageous. Land owners and developers, as outlined in the entitlement story in this issue, are already subject to a multitude of rules and regulations. To have the government then come in and put additional restrictions on the property and essentially make it public domain is government overreach at its worst.
With this precedent overturned, property owners now have the ability to take this issue to federal court which has traditionally been friendlier than state courts in property claims. The ruling also recognizes that it is wrong for the government to turn private property public without at the very least paying for it first. In addition, as a result of this decision, I expect to see regulations on private land ease up a bit as state and federal government now must think twice before essentially making grabs of private land.
Call to Action: If your land has been subjected to unfair regulations that make it effectively unusable for you or turns it into public property, now is your time. The Supreme Court has determined that your case can be heard and your rights can be restored. Decisions like this are essential to Nevada, a state largely owned by the Feds already. If government overreach starts to creep onto your property, now you have another option to stop it in its tracks.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”