Regulatory Taking and Judicial Protection
Regulatory Taking and Judicial Protection
The two essays present different discussions that touch on law and policy. The first section is a short essay examining the principle of regulatory takings and when it should be applied. The second section examines property rights as an essential part of human rights. Analyzing the two sections is essential to expand the understanding of property law and regulatory policies in the US.
Part II. B. Short Essay
In the case involving Edward and the County, the trial court was correct to rule that the move to deny Edward the development application did not constitute a regulatory taking. Edward had presented a development application to the county asking for permission to develop 10 acres of his 100-acre property. County officials declined to pass the development application arguing that the 10 acres were part of the protected wetlands. Also, County argued that developing the wetlands could destroy endangered species. As a result, Edward filed a case at the trial court arguing that the action of the county amounted to a regulatory taking. The court ruled that the actions of the county did not represent regulatory taking.
Based on the above background, it is evident that the trial court was correct to rule that the actions of County were not regulatory takings. Various laws and findings of and different courts in the US highlight the conditions under which regulatory takings should take place. Also, different rulings by the Supreme Court allow states to make laws and policies that regulate the use of private properties. The need to prove that the trial court was correct to rule against Edward requires an analysis of regulatory taking based on previous court rulings. It also requires an analysis of previous cases and how they relate to the one involving Edward and County.
For instance, in Kelo v. City of New London (2005), the Supreme Court’s ruling reveals that state governments can take over or control private properties. The court ruled that if a government policy regulating the use of private property is rational and based on facts, the state government can take over or transfer the ownership of the property for public use. Also, the court went further to quote previous rulings and indicated that the state government only needs to give genuine reasons to take over or regulate the use of the private property. In the case of Edward, it is evident that County gave genuine reasons concerning the regulation of the use of his property. Therefore, Edward’s argument that the actions of County violated the constitution is irrelevant.
Additionally, the trial court was correct since it considered the conditions of the regulations that prevent individuals from exploiting private properties. In the Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon (1922), Brandeis, one of the judges, in his dissenting opinion gave the conditions that regulations should meet to ensure they do not lead to a regulatory taking. The judge held that regulations should strive to protect the public health, morals, and safety. He argued that if land use is noxious, causes a public nuisance or it is dangerous, regulating the exploitation should be allowed. In the case of Edward, the regulation denying him permission to exploit his private property aimed at protecting the endangered species. Edward’s claims show that he intended to exploit his property at the expense of the welfare of the public. Therefore, since the regulation intended to protect the welfare of the public and the ecosystem, then it does not constitute a regulatory taking as Edward claimed thus demonstrating the court was correct in its ruling.
In the case of Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council (1992), the basis upon which the Supreme Court of the US made its ruling gives the conditions under which regulatory takings can take place. The court found that regulatory takings happen when a state regulation deprives the owner all economic benefits of its property (Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 1992). Also, the court established that before taking private property, the state government or agency should consider ways to avoid the harm that can emanate from the development of the property. Although in the case of Edward County regulated the use of the property, it did not deprive him of all its economic benefits. As evident in the case, for instance, Edward can still earn $ 10,000 from the property without developing it. Based on these arguments, it is evident that the trial court was correct to rule that County did not take Edward’s property.
Also, as evident in Penn Central Transportation Company et al, v.New York City et al (1978), one cannot claim that a state has taken his property without proving that the nature of the action interfered with all his property rights. In this case, the Supreme Court held that regulations that deny people the right to exploit their properties do not constitute a regulatory taking. In the case of Edward, the claimant argued that County’s move to deny him development certificate violated the laws dealing with taking. However, the regulation only denied Edward the right to exploit part of his property hence it did not interfere with all property rights thus showing it was not a regulatory taking. Thus, the regulation only affected some of the interests of the owner and did not render his claim over the property void.
Therefore, since the regulation preventing Edward from exploiting his property did not meet the conditions of a regulatory taking then his claims were void. The regulation allowed him to continue owning the property thus showing that he could get benefits from it. The nature of the regulations also aimed at protecting public welfare. By considering these conditions, it is evident that the court was correct to rule that County had no intentions of taking over Edward’s property.
Part III: Policy Essay
Property owners deserve the same degree of judicial protection just like insular minorities and people seeking protection for fundamental rights. The right to own and exploit personal properties should be safeguarded through judicial protection. Property owners experience challenges exercising rights due to government laws and regulations. They need protection to enjoy their rights just like those fighting the violation of fundamental freedoms such as free speech, privacy, and freedom of religion. The need to safeguard all people’s economic benefits and separate government and private ownership necessitates the judicial protection on property rights.
As evident in different cases, government regulations can deprive individuals some of the economic benefits of their properties. Allowing the government to deprive individuals the economic benefits of their properties makes such individuals vulnerable to government policies and law and necessitates judicial protections. For instance, as evident Kelo v. City of New London (2005), the government designed a policy to deprive Kelo of their ownership of property. The City of New London transferred the ownership of a private property from one entity to another arguing that the move was based on the economic domain clause of the Fifth Amendment that allows the government to use policy to transfer ownership of the private property if the move is beneficial to the majority of the population in the area. Interestingly, Kelo, the owners of the property did not show interest in selling it. Thus, the government’s move to transfer the ownership amounts to land grabbing. Based on the outcome of the case that allowed the city of New London to continue with the plans, it is essential that property owners are vulnerable to government policies and need judicial protection just like the insular minorities.
tuuAdditionally, in Penn Central Transportation Co. et al v. New York City et al (1978), it is evident that owners of the property are vulnerable to losses that emanate from laws and regulations that come after the individuals acquire the property. In the case, Penn lost the right to renovate its property due to a law that was passed years after the construction of the building in question. Whereas New York’s Land Marks Law came into force in 1965, the buildings it prevented from renovation were constructed in the 1950s. The law prohibited the company from expanding its income by preventing future renovations. Although the court denied that the law allowed Landmarks Law allowed New York City to engage in a regulatory taking of private properties, it is evident that Penn Central was vulnerable due to regulations that affected its income. The regulation prevented the owner of the property from reaping all its economic benefits thus limiting the exercise of economic freedoms. In the exercise of fundamental freedoms, the judiciary protects individuals from laws that limit the fundamental rights especially when such laws are enacted at the time individuals are enjoying their freedoms. Thus, property owners need this judicial protection to ensure they enjoy all the economic benefits from their property.
Moreover, judicial protection of property owners is essential to separate individual and state properties. Based on the rulings that the courts have given regarding regulatory holding, it is essential to note that there is no clear distinction between privately-owned and government-owned properties. For instance, in Penn Central Transportation Co. et al v. New York City et al (1978), the court held that states have the right to make laws and regulations that adversely affect the economic values of private properties without leading to a regulatory taking. One can infer from this case that the court gave the government the right to exercise powers that infringe on the rights of the owners of the property.
Although the court claimed that the move to allow the government the right to use regulations and laws to interfere with private properties was not an indication of taking, it is evident that such rights make governments behave as if they co-own the property. For instance, from the ruling, it is evident that the court gave New York City the right to restrict the use of the private property. Allowing the government to control the use of a property that it does not own brings a conflict of interest. The conflict leads to confusion regarding the entity with absolute rights over the property. Thus, without judicial protections that clearly highlight the limitations of the rights of the ownership of property, it is difficult to separate property ownership between individuals and the government.
The need to check the excesses of the government regulations and laws that regulate the exploitation of private properties also necessitates judicial protection of the property owners. Judicial protections preventing violation of fundamental rights and freedoms of the insular minorities aim at ensuring that the government does not allow powerful individuals to mistreat the minorities (Huneeus, 2011). Since the government can use its machinery to formulate regulations that allow it to overlook the fundamental rights of the people, judicial protection exists to ensure that the excesses of government do not affect the fundamental freedoms. Similarly, property owners need the same degree of judicial protection to ensure they do not suffer from laws and regulations that exhibit the excesses of government.
In Pennsylvania Coal Company v. Mahon (1922), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s judgment reveals how the lack of judicial protections allows government excesses to disadvantage property owners. The court allowed Pennsylvania Coal Company to undertake to mine in the property it had sold to Mohan. The judges held that their decision was based on the Kohler Act that prohibited the mining of coal under structures that had human habitation. However, the decision challenged the Act since it allowed coal mining against the regulation. In their ruling, the judges indicated that the Act allowed the government and mining companies in mining to mine coal so long as they could compensate individuals owning the surface land above the coal. Thus, since Mahon lacked judicial protections similar to the ones protecting fundamental rights, he had to agree to the excesses of the powerful miner to exploit coal on his land. Property owners need these protections to prevent them from being victims of the excesses of government and powerful entities.
Therefore, the right to own property should be protected just like the fundamental rights and rights touching on insular minorities. Since property owners are vulnerable, they need protection to ensure they have adequate control of their properties. The owners of property also need protection to ensure they get all economic benefits of their property. Without judicial protections, property owners cannot avoid falling victims to the excesses of government laws and regulations.
Huneeus, A. (2011). Courts resisting courts: Lessons from the Inter-American Court's struggle to enforce human rights. Cornell Int'l LJ, 44, 493.
Kelo v. City of New London, 04-108, U.S. (2005)
Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 91-453, U.S. (1992)
Penn Central Transportation Co. et al. v. New York City et al., 438 U.S. (1978).
Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon, 260 U.S. (1922).