Supreme Court ruling confirms property rights aren’t second-class rights
June 21, 2019
Washington, DC; June 21, 2019: This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a major victory for PLF client Rose Knick and all property owners, allowing them to fairly fight back when government takes their property without paying for it.
In Knick v. Township of Scott, Rose Knick asked the Supreme Court to overturn a 1985 precedent that allowed federal courts to refuse to hear her challenge to a local ordinance that forced her to allow public access to her private farmland.
The decision held that the precedent, known as Williamson County, was wrongly decided, and that federal property rights are entitled to the same respect in federal courts as other constitutional rights. For Rose, who made the trip from Pennsylvania to D.C., first in October, then in January after the justices called for a rare reargument, the decision is a huge relief.
“I’m so thankful for all the time the Supreme Court spent on this case and for the hard work PLF has done to protect the property rights of all Americans,” Rose said. “All I’ve ever wanted was to be able to enjoy my farm in peace and quiet. Now I can actually hold the Township accountable for taking my private property in federal court!”
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said, “Williamson County was not just wrong. Its reasoning was exceptionally ill founded and conflicted with much of our takings jurisprudence.”
“The Court’s decision to reject barriers that unfairly deny property owners their day in court sends a message that property rights are just as sacred as all other rights,” said PLF attorney Dave Breemer. “Thanks to Rose’s courage and the Supreme Court’s careful examination of this issue, property owners should now receive a prompt and fair federal hearing when the government takes their property for public use but fails to pay compensation.”
Today’s decision will change the way takings claims are litigated nationwide, offering quicker and more certain relief to property owners whose property is taken by state and local governments.
More information can be found at pacificlegal.org/knick.
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 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 17 wins of 19 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.