I am a strong proponent of property rights (as are most real estate owners), so it was with a glad heart that I received some great news today from the National Association of Realtors® concerning property rights! 

     This past Friday, June 21, 2019, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in the case of Knick v. Township of Scott, which will go down in history as a landmark decision regarding property rights in America.   I am not aware of specific details of this case, but evidently Knick had been the victim of a government “taking” of his property and had first litigated the matter in local courts until it had gone all the way to the Supreme Court. 

     Specifically, the court ruling declares 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.  This ruling overturned a 34 year 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.”

     Previous to this decision, property owners had been required to exhaust all remedies to receive just compensation in state courts before they could escalate to the federal court.  What that means is that aggrieved property owners will now have both state and federal courts available to redress their property rights. 

     The National Association of Realtors® expects this new development to prompt local governments to be more strategic regarding takings, especially in the areas of land use planning and environmental regulations (wetlands etc.) in order to avoid the uncertainty of litigation in federal court.  Considerations surrounding compensation should increase also.

     Of course there are many who won’t agree with this decision, but I believe it to be a significant step towards protecting our constitutional rights.  While Realtors® had nothing to do with this Supreme Court decision, we whole heartedly agree and support this strengthening of property rights!