Local governments be forewarned, the path to pursue when property owner’s constitutional rights have been violated has just been shortened. Zoning ordinances which have grown to be nearly as large as the worlds largest fungus might now face appropriate challenges in venues that serve as constitutional protectors.
The Supreme Court Of The United States (SCOTUS) has smashed a ‘takings’ precedent, and in doing so has made it easier for property owners beset with zealous planning and land use prohibition to clarify more immediately where a constitutional line is drawn. From the SCOTUS blog:
In its long-awaited opinion in Knick v. Township of Scott, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that plaintiffs alleging that local governments have violated the takings clause may proceed directly in federal court, rather than first litigating in state court. The opinion overrules a 34-year-old precedent, Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank, triggering a sharp dissent and another debate among the justices about the meaning of stare decisis. The majority opinion also rests on a reading of the takings clause—that a constitutional violation occurs at the moment property is “taken,” even if compensation is paid later—that may have consequences beyond this case.
The takings clause of the federal Constitution provides: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” This takings case arose from a dispute between petitioner Rose Mary Knick and the township of Scott, Pennsylvania. Knick has a small graveyard on her property, and the township attempted to enforce against her an ordinance requiring such properties to be open to the public during daytime hours. Knick alleged an unconstitutional taking, but a federal court dismissed her suit because she had not first sought compensation in state court.
The 34-year-old precedent was not all that it upended.