Awaiting the First Monday in October

Not much serious news in eminent domain except for the usual dull roar of more or less routine cases coming down now and then. But the US Supreme Court is sitting on two biggies. First, it has granted certiorari in the Knick case where briefs have been filed and nothing will happen until the after first Monday in October when the Supreme Court comes back from its annual recess and hears oral arguments. We are still watching in disbelief — pleasantly so for a change — as the US Solicitor General has filed an amicus brief on the Petitioner-Property Owner’s side, suggesting that SCOTUS dump the absurd Williamson County rule that requires property owners, unlike any other litigants, to refrain from suing in federal courts when their property is taken without the Just Compensation explicitly required by the Fifth Amendment.

So stay tuned folks. It shouldn’t be much longer, and we hope that it won’t turn out to be some sort of “October Surprise,” what with one Supreme Court seat vacant and no realistic hope of it being filled expeditiously.

The other case, the one in which a land owner’s petition for certiorari has been pending for some time is the California Martin’s Beach case where California courts — who else? — have decreed that the owner of a parcel of oceanfront land must open his property to the general public so its members can disport themselves on the beach, without payment of just compensation for this uncompensated imposition of a public access easement in open defiance of the SCOTUS decision in the Kaiser-Aetna case, holding that the right to exclude strangers from one’s land is the most important property right. This one has been sitting up there for a while so it’s fair to surmise that at least it isn’t being treated as a routine case so far.

So as we are fond of saying, stay tuned on that one too.