Press Release

High Court sets March 20 to hear PLF’s Murr property rights case

WASHINGTON, D.C.;  February 3, 2017:  The Supreme Court has announced March 20 as the date for oral argument in Pacific Legal Foundation’s high-profile property rights case, Murr v. State of Wisconsin and St. Croix County .  PLF represents a family that has fought all the way to the highest court in the land to stop bureaucrats from robbing them of a family legacy — a vacant parcel along the St. Croix River in Wisconsin that their late parents purchased in the early 1960s as a family investment.

The six children of the late William Murr (a South St. Paul plumber) and his wife, Dorothy, want to sell the vacant parcel, to fund repair of their family’s cabin, which sits on a separate, adjacent lot that their parents bought several years earlier.

But government officials — imposing regulations that weren’t in place when the property was purchased — have forbidden the Murrs from selling or making any productive use of the vacant parcel.  To avoid liability for an unconstitutional taking, officials are arbitrarily treating both lots as if they were a single unified parcel, even though the two parcels were bought by the Murrs’ parents at different times and are legally distinct.

Represented by PLF attorneys, the Murrs’ case poses a precedent-setting question:  Can government take property without compensation simply because the owner happens to also own adjacent land?  Are people denied constitutional protections for their property rights if government decides they own “too much” property?

“It will be a privilege to argue this important property rights case before the nation’s highest court on March 20,” said PLF General Counsel John Groen, who will present oral argument on behalf of the Murr family.  “This is about justice for a family that has been wronged by local land use regulations, but it is also about everyone’s property rights, from coast to coast.  We are seeking to reaffirm that government can’t use creative regulatory maneuvers to take property without compensation.”

“My entire family is so excited to hear the news that our case is scheduled to be heard before the Supreme Court on March 20th,” said Donna Murr, one of the six Murr siblings.  “We have been patiently waiting for this news for over a year, and cannot wait to start making plans for our trip to Washington D.C.  We hope to have as many of mom and dad’s children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren present for the oral arguments as possible.  We remain eternally grateful to Pacific Legal Foundation for believing in and taking our case, and we continue to be optimistic for a favorable outcome.”

About Pacific Legal Foundation
Pacific Legal Foundation, America’s most powerful ally for justice, litigates in courts nationwide for limited government, property rights, individual liberty, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations.   PLF represents the Murrs without charge, as with all its clients.

Case Attorneys

John M. Groen

Executive Vice President and General Counsel

John Groen has extensive experience in public interest litigation before all levels of federal and state courts.  He began his law career with Pacific Legal Foundation in 1987 and launched … ›

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J. David Breemer

Senior Attorney

David (Dave) Breemer developed a passion for liberty while reading classics such as John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government and Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man, as he pursued a … ›

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Case Commentary

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Victory for property rights at Wisconsin Legislature

Good news out of Wisconsin: The Legislature has acted to shore up the rights of property owners that the U.S. Supreme Court undercut earlier this year in its unfortunate decision in Murr v. Wisconsin.

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History teacher reacts to case being heard in front of U.S. Supreme Court

Mike Murr talks about what it was like finding out that his family’s property rights case against St. Croix County and the state of Wisconsin would be heard in front … ›

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By Jonathan Wood

Secure property rights are the key to conservation

Too often, property rights and conservation are treated as if they are in tension But, in reality, property rights are a proven means to encourage responsible stewardship, resolve conflicts over limited resources, and empower environmentalists to protect resources they value

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