Knick v. Scott Township Pennsylvania

Supreme Court considers second-class treatment of property rights

Cases > Supreme Court Cases > Knick v. Scott Township Pennsylvania
Case Status: Active: Oral argument heard at U.S. Supreme Court October 3, 2018.

In 2013, government agents forced Rose Knick to allow public access to a suspected gravesite on her farmland. Rose sued over the unconstitutional property taking. But a federal court refused to hear her federal claim citing the 1985 Supreme Court decision Williamson County. Rose has asked the Court to overturn this precedent so property rights are on equal footing with other rights such as due process and free speech. On behalf of Rose and all property owners, PLF argued Knick before the Supreme Court on October 3, 2018.

Supreme Court Transcript

Supreme Court Oral Argument Audio

Hundreds of years of property records find no gravesites on Rose Knick’s 90-acre farm in Scott Township, Pennsylvania—a rural area on the eastern side of the state. Rose lives alone on the property, which has been in her family since 1970. Other than farming activity she allows in her fields, Rose treasures the peace and quiet she finds nowhere else.

Lack of evidence notwithstanding, Scott Township officials enacted a so-called graveyard law and forced Rose to allow unrestricted public access across her private property to visit a suspected gravesite.

Rose sued over the unconstitutional property taking. But a federal court refused to hear her federal claim, citing Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank. This 1985 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court said property owners must take their federal property rights claims to state courts before bothering with federal courts.

Williamson County gave property rights second-class status, that is, the only rights guaranteed by the Constitution not directly enforceable by federal courts.

Rose has asked the Supreme Court to review and overturn this 33-year-old procedural justice-buster and put property rights on equal footing with other rights such as due process and free speech.

The High Court granted review of Rose’s case in March, and Pacific Legal Foundation argued for Rose Knick’s constitutional rights on October 3, 2018. At the request of the Court in November, PLF reargued the case on January 16, 2019.

Read full story

What’s at stake?

  • Federal courts need to stop treating property rights as “second-class” rights and allow property owners to defend their constitutional rights in federal court—just like every other constitutional right.

Case Timeline

Reply Merits Brief

August 24, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - San Remo Hotel and Thomas Field, Robert Field, Franklin Kottschade, Peyman Pakdel, and Sima Chegini

June 12, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - AARP and AARP Fdn

June 12, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - American Farm Bureau Federation

June 12, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - American Planning Association

June 12, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty

June 12, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - Cato Institute, NFIB Small Business Legal Center, Southeastern Legal Fdn, Beacon Center of TN, Reason Fdn, Prof Ilya Somin

June 12, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence

June 12, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - Citizen's Alliance for Property Rights and Inverse Condemnation

June 12, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - Institute for Justice, Owners Counsel of America, Professor Mandelker

June 12, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - Justice and Freedom Fund

June 12, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - National Association of Homebuilders

June 12, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - New England Legal Foundation

June 12, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - Ohio Farm Bureau Federation

June 12, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - Texas and Oklahoma

June 12, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - United States of America

June 12, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - US Congressmen Steve King and Kevin Cramer

June 12, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - Washington Legal Foundation and Allied Educational Fdn

June 12, 2018 Download

Knick - AC Brief - Western Manufactured Housing Communities

June 12, 2018 Download

Merits Brief

May 29, 2018 Download

Petition for Writ of Certiorari

August 31, 2017 Download

Third Circuit Opinion

July 06, 2017 Download

Opinion re Motion to Dismiss

September 08, 2016 Download

Case Attorneys

Related Posts

Donate