Lech v. City of Greenwood Village

The police can't deliberately destroy innocent people’s homes without paying fair, constitutionally-required compensation

Amicus Briefs > Property Rights > Lech v. City of Greenwood Village

This case is about whether the Constitution requires the government to compensate an innocent family for deliberately destroying their house while attempting to arrest a fugitive.

In our friend-of-the-court brief, PLF argues that the Supreme Court should grant the Institute for Justice’s petition for a writ of certiorari because the Tenth Circuit’s decision to exempt police actions from the Constitution’s Just Compensation Clause clearly contradicts binding precedent and basic constitutional principles. PLF’s unique knowledge on Just Compensation Clause jurisprudence makes its voice a valuable one for the Court on this topic.

  • The Tenth Circuit was wrong in concluding that the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits the taking of property without accompanying payment of just compensation, does not apply to police action. PLF argues that the Supreme Court should not let such a significant misapprehension of constitutional property rights protections stand.
  • The Tenth Circuit’s decision relied on a nonexistent distinction between eminent domain and police powers, claiming that the Just Compensation Clause applies only to the former and not to the latter. The Supreme Court’s precedents dating back a century consistently contradict this assertion.
  • The exception detailed by the Tenth Circuit, which other courts around the country have adopted, places property owners in a pickle by depriving them of the ability to be compensated for costs that fall heavily upon them in the service of the broad public goal of law enforcement.
  • Since a great deal of military equipment and tactics have proliferated to local law enforcement authorities around the country over the past few decades (including tanks, grenade launchers, flashbang grenades, machine guns, etc.), destruction of private property for the purpose of law enforcement is an increasing problem, particularly if the disincentive against causing more destruction than necessary dissipates through an exemption from the Fifth Amendment contemplated by the Tenth Circuit.

PLF regularly participates as amicus curiae, or friend of the court, in cases brought by others. This supplements our direct representation cases by providing judges with unique, strategic, and helpful arguments to consider when crafting their opinions.

Related Documents

PLF regularly participates as amicus curiae, or friend of the court, in cases brought by others. This supplements our direct representation cases by providing judges with unique, strategic, and helpful arguments to consider when crafting their opinions in related cases

Brief Amicus Curiae of PLF Support of Petitioners

April 17, 2020 Download

What’s at stake?

  • At stake is an encroachment on the constitutional rights of Americans to be compensated for disproportionate losses they bear in the name of the ill-defined “police power” of the States—an encroachment that will pave the way for more and greater exclusions.

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