Rule of Law

RELEASE: In Narrow Takings Clause Decision, Justices Do Not Take up Extreme Request to Expand Takings Clause

WASHINGTON, DC – Following the Supreme Court’s announcement of its decision in Sheetz v. County of El Dorado, California, a case in which the Court was considering whether traffic impact mitigation fees violate the Takings Clause of the Constitution, Constitutional Accountability Center Counsel Nina Henry issued the following reaction:

While the Supreme Court today may have rejected the California Court of Appeal’s conclusion that the Takings Clause distinguishes between legislative and administrative permit conditions, today’s decision was hardly a win for George Sheetz.

Significantly, the Court did not determine whether the traffic impact fee at issue was a taking at all. As Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justice Jackson, noted in her concurrence, “The question presented in this case did not include that antecedent question,” and the lower court has not yet analyzed this threshold issue. The Court too noted that “[t]he California Court of Appeal did not consider this point.”

When the California Court of Appeal considers that question on remand, it should conclude, as we argued in our brief, that the traffic impact fee is not a taking at all. The history of the Takings Clause demonstrates that the Clause, properly understood, should be narrowly limited to the actual seizure of land. The Framers of the Takings Clause saw no constitutional problem with requiring landowners to pay into local government for the common good. And even as the Supreme Court has expanded somewhat the scope of the Clause, it has consistently limited its reach to government actions that are the functional equivalent of the direct appropriation of real property and government efforts to evade the Clause’s restrictions.

In today’s decision, the Supreme Court wisely did not take up George Sheetz’s request to dramatically expand the scope of the Takings Clause beyond the boundaries set by text, history, and precedent. Sheetz might not like the traffic impact mitigation fee at issue in this case, but that doesn’t make it unconstitutional.



Case page in Sheetz v. County of El Dorado, California:

Oral argument press release: Supreme Court Oral Argument this Morning Highlights Extreme Arguments Being Made in Takings Clause Case


Constitutional Accountability Center is a nonpartisan think tank and public interest law firm dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text, history, and values. Visit CAC’s website at