Rule of Law

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

WASHINGTON, DC – Following oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court this morning in Sheetz v. County of El Dorado, California, a case in which the Court is considering whether traffic impact mitigation fees violate the Takings Clause of the Constitution, Constitutional Accountability Center Counsel Nina Henry issued the following reaction:

Today’s oral argument showed that the conservative legal movement is trying to stretch the boundaries of the Takings Clause far beyond the Framers’ plan.

As CAC’s amicus brief in the case explained, 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.

Moreover, as many of the justices’ questions made clear, there is no clear limiting principle to Petitioner George Sheetz’s argument. Indeed, Petitioner’s argument, if taken to its logical conclusion, could have major implications for all kinds of land-use and zoning laws that raise no issues under the Takings Clause, properly understood.

George Sheetz might not like the traffic impact mitigation fee at issue in this case, but that doesn’t make it unconstitutional. Under the text and history of the Takings Clause, as well Supreme Court precedent, the fee is constitutional.



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

Letter to the Editor in the Washington Post:


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