WASHINGTON, D.C.; June 23, 2017: The Supreme Court delivered an adverse ruling today for property rights, in the case of Murr v. State of Wisconsin and St. Croix County, with the majority failing to recognize the constitutional violation that government imposed on the Murr family.
Represented free of charge by Pacific Legal Foundation, the Murr family appealed to the Supreme Court after they had been effectively robbed by regulators of a family legacy — a vacant parcel along the St. Croix River purchased by their late parents decades ago as a family investment. They would like to sell the vacant parcel to fund repairs to their family cabin, which sits on an adjacent parcel that their parents bought several years earlier. But government officials — imposing regulations enacted after both parcels were purchased — have forbidden them from selling or making any productive use of the vacant investment parcel. To avoid liability for a taking of the vacant parcel, officials insisted on arbitrarily treating both lots as if they were a single, unified parcel — even though they were bought at different times and are legally distinct.
“This is an unfortunate decision for the Murrs, and all property owners,” said John Groen, PLF’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel. “We are disappointed that the court did not recognize the fundamental unfairness to the Murrs of having their separate properties combined, simply to avoid the protection of the Takings Clause.
“We will continue the fight for property owners and for the integrity of the constitutional right against uncompensated government takings,” he continued. “PLF is honored to represent the Murr family, and while we are disappointed in today’s decision, we know the battle to secure constitutional rights is an ongoing effort.”
“My brothers and sister and I are certainly disappointed in today’s ruling,” said Donna Murr, one of the Murr siblings who litigated this case to defend their legacy from their parents, the late William Murr and his wife Dorothy. “We fought very hard to get this far, and we have no regrets. However, we would like to extend our gratitude to the nation’s highest court for its willingness to explore the issues at hand.
“Notwithstanding this disappointing decision, we are confident our case will still make a difference for other Americans,” she continued. “It is our hope that property owners across the country will learn from our experience and not take their property rights for granted. This has been an experience of a lifetime, and for our family, an experience for generations to follow. Although the outcome was not what we had hoped for, we believe our case will demonstrate the importance of taking a stand and protecting property rights through the court system when necessary.
“As a family, we are very proud of our achievements and all we have endured,” she said.
“The Murrs will be forever thankful to the Pacific Legal Foundation and their outstanding legal team. There was simply no way our family could have kept this fight alive without the generous resources of the Pacific Legal Foundation and their donors. Our case would have never made it to the Supreme Court had PLF not recognized its importance and significance for all property owners and the rights of all Americans.”
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Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 39 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 12 victories out of 14 cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
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