NFIB: Supreme Court case on property rights & Gov’t intrusions

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By NFIB

On behalf of small-business and property owners, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Legal Center  filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Arkansas Game & Fish Commission v. United States. The case will decide whether or not property owners can be compensated under the Fifth Amendment for damages caused to their property as the result of temporary government invasions (i.e. flooding, etc.).

“For many small-business owners—farmers and ranchers especially—property is essential to their livelihood and the success of their business,” said Karen Harned, executive director of the NFIB Small Business Legal Center. “Property owners often suffer devastating losses from government invasions that could cause the loss of home or place of business if left uncompensated. Private property should be protected from government invasions, and it should not matter whether the invasion is only short-lived.”

Historically, property owners face significant legal hurdles when seeking compensation for property damage caused by short-term government policies and projects. There are often devastating impacts that property or small-business owners endure due to a temporary physical invasion by the government that may result in destruction of/to a home, place of business or other valuable resources.

In this case, the Army Corps of Engineers deviated from longstanding policies that had governed the volume and length of water-releases from Clearwater Dam in southeast Missouri. These changes resulted in eight years of flooding, which ultimately destroyed numerous trees on downstream private property. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals held that downstream property owners could not receive compensation for these flood damages, because the flooding was only temporary. The plaintiffs appealed that decision which now stands before the Supreme Court.

NFIB is joined in its brief by the National Association of Homebuilders, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Forestry Resource Council, and the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence.