SCOTUS Will Decide When Government Can Stop You From Selling Land

DC: While the Senate Committee on the Judiciary grills Judge Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court will decide one of the biggest property rights cases of recent years.

The case concerns a Wisconsin family who argue the government has unconstitutionally taken their land by refusing to allow them to sell it.

The Murr family owns two pieces of property on the St. Croix River in Wisconsin. They attempted to sell one of their waterfront lots (called “Lot E”) to finance improvements to a cabin they own on the second plot (called “Lot F”). The value of Lot E had been assessed at $400,000. Environmental officials blocked the sale for violating conservation rules. A county board further declared that state law required the two lots be merged into a single piece of property that could not be broken up and sold in smaller parcels.

If effect, the Murr family argues, the government-mandated merger of their properties stripped them of nearly half a million dollars, as they are now unable sell Lot E. They argue this constitutes a violation of the Constitution’s takings clause, which prohibits the government from seizing private property for public use without “just compensation.”

“We felt our rights had been violated,” Donna Murr told The Associated Press. “If the government is going to take your property, they need to pay for it.”

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16 Comments on SCOTUS Will Decide When Government Can Stop You From Selling Land

  1. If we got rid of the 90%, or so, of the laws that use these weird mental and legal gymnastics to meet Constitutional muster, we’d not be $20+-trillion in debt, and we’d be a helluva lot freer!

    At the rate we’re going, the Bill of Rights will be an eviscerated, distant memory, with the ONLY guaranteed “Constitutional” rights being those of gay marriage, abortion, trans-gender rights, Free Stuff, open borders and hate speech.

    Madison, Adams and Jefferson must be spinning like lathes!

  2. I read the Daily Caller story but they left some things out. What is the rationale for the government to deny the Murr’s action of splitting the land they own? Were the Murr’s aware of this possible action or constraint of use when they acquired the land or has the land been in the family for generations and no mention ever of the possibility of this? It would be nice to know this to determine whether it’s government overreach again.

  3. If the state gets away with this, the next step should be for the state of Kalifornia to take all ocean front property away from rich Hollywood types and give the beaches to the citizens of the state. Oregon got away with it.

  4. @ judgeroybean
    “Kalifornia to take all ocean front property away from rich Hollywood types and give the beaches to the citizens of the state.”
    Except Barbara Streisand. She is exempt from commoners on her beach.

  5. This is/will be a cluster. If the lot the cabin is on, is non-conforming in size, then the county can require both lots be merged if they want to improve the cabin. But that’s if the zoning rules say the cabin (or other structure under consideration) has to have a lot of minimal size. Bottom line, if they didn’t have another, contiguous lot to merge, they’d be out of luck to get the permit to improve the cabin. Most counties here also have restrictions on the value of improvements that can take place. Usually no more that half the current value. If they drop the improvement idea, can the two lots remain separate? Could they then sell that other lot?
    BT, these rules exist to stop people from buying a small lot/crummy cabin, and building a $500,000 house on it. Especially in areas that don’t have municipal water/sewer service. The lakes had gotten so gross, and water tables are high so the wells were becoming useless from the pollution (if you could get by the stench).
    In the landowners defense, these rules can be too restrictive, and are used to keep out ‘undesirables’.
    Been there, done that.
    Oh, and what they should have done, was go ahead and build. then pay the fine afterwards. That’s what the rich folk do.

  6. We used to kill people for this kind of shit.
    This is why we got rid of George III.

    Former Republic of the United States of America, indeed.

    izlamo delenda est …

  7. @burner ~ the point of the suit is, they can’t build until they get the money from the sale of the other lot (lot E)

    I still am not getting the ‘Environmental’ official’s angle, or the zoning explanation. what was the zoning when they brought it? what has changed since? did they get warning?

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