ArtIII.S2.C1.7.9 Takings and Ripeness

Article III, Section 2, Clause 1:

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States; between a State and Citizens of another State, between Citizens of different States,—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

Until very recently, the Supreme Court applied special ripeness rules in regulatory takings cases in which a litigant alleges that a governmental entity has “taken” his property without paying “just compensation” as the Fifth Amendment requires.1 Under the doctrine established in Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City,2 a plaintiff could not pursue a takings claim against a state entity in federal court until the plaintiff had (1) received a final decision from the state government regarding the challenged regulation’s application to his property; and (2) sought compensation through state-provided procedures.3 Williamson County's context-specific ripeness rule created potentially significant obstacles for takings plaintiffs. As the Court later held in San Remo Hotel, L.P. v. City & County of San Francisco, when a plaintiff first litigates a takings claim in state court as mandated by Williamson County, the federal full faith and credit statute bars the plaintiff from relitigating the Takings Clause issues in a subsequent federal lawsuit.4 Thus, under Williamson County and San Remo, a plaintiff could not file a takings lawsuit in federal court before pursuing his claim in state court, yet if he lost in state court, his subsequent federal lawsuit would fail as well.5 The Court ultimately concluded that this special ripeness rule imposed “an unjustifiable burden on takings plaintiffs” and conflicted with the Court’s Takings Clause jurisprudence.6 The Court therefore overruled Williamson County in Knick v. Township of Scott.7 After Knick, a property owner may bring a takings claim in a federal court without first seeking compensation in state court.8

U.S. Const. amend. V ( “[N]or shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” ). See Horne v. Dep’t of Agric., 569 U.S. 513, 524–28 (2013); Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Fla. Dep’t of Envtl. Prot., 560 U.S. 702, 729 & n.10 (2010); Palazzolo v. Rhode Island, 533 U.S. 606, 618, 620–22 (2001); Suitum v. Tahoe Reg’l Planning Agency, 520 U.S. 725, 733–34 (1997); Lucas v. S.C. Coastal Council, 505 U.S. 1003, 1010–14 (1992); Yee v. City of Escondido, 503 U.S. 519, 533–34 (1992); Preseault v. ICC, 494 U.S. 1, 11–17 (1990); First English Evangelical Lutheran Church of Glendale v. Cty. of Los Angeles, 482 U.S. 304, 312 n.6 (1987); MacDonald, Sommer & Frates v. Yolo Cty., 477 U.S. 340, 348–53 (1986); Williamson Cty. Reg’l Planning Comm’n v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, 473 U.S. 172, 186, 190–91, 195, 200 (1985), overruled by Knick v. Twp. of Scott, No. 17-647 (U.S. June 21, 2019). See also, e.g., Knick, No. 17-647, slip op. at 22 (characterizing the aforementioned cases as articulating “a ‘prudential’ ripeness rule” ); Tahoe-Sierra Pres. Council, Inc. v. Tahoe Reg’l Planning Agency, 535 U.S. 302, 339 (2002) ( “[I]t is the interest in informed decisionmaking that underlies our decisions imposing a strict ripeness requirement on landowners asserting regulatory takings claims.” ); Pennell v. City of San Jose, 485 U.S. 1, 8–10 (1988) (holding that “it would be premature” to consider challenger’s claim that local ordinance violated the Takings Clause). See generally Amdt5.9.6 Regulatory Takings and Penn Central Framework (defining and discussing regulatory takings). back
473 U.S. at 186, 190–91, 195, 200. back
Suitum, 520 U.S. at 734 (quoting Williamson Cty., 473 U.S. at 186, 194) (brackets omitted). See also, e.g., Palazzolo, 533 U.S. at 618, 620–22. back
545 U.S. 323, 326–48 (2005). See also 28 U.S.C. § 1738 (Full Faith and Credit Act); ArtIV.S1.1 Overview of Full Faith and Credit Clause through ArtIV.S1.5.2 Specifically Applicable Federal Law on Full Faith and Credit Clause (analyzing the Full Faith and Credit Act). back
Knick, No. 17-647, slip op. at 1–2 ( “The takings plaintiff thus finds himself in a Catch-22: He cannot go to federal court without going to state court first; but if he goes to state court and loses, his claim will be barred in federal court. The federal claim dies aborning.” ). back
Id. at 2. back
Id. at 23. back
Id. at 2, 23. back