Attorney General Laxalt Files U.S. Supreme Court Brief Defending Property Rights

April 19, 2016

Carson City, NV – Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt led a coalition of nine state attorneys general in the filing of a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case Murr v. Wisconsin challenging uncompensated regulatory takings of private property. The brief urges the Supreme Court to reject a new rule that would allow governments to take more land through regulation without compensating property owners for the taking.

    The Murr family owns two neighboring parcels of land in Wisconsin—one that is developed and another that is undeveloped. When the Murrs planned to sell the undeveloped parcel, they discovered a Wisconsin ordinance that effectively prohibited the development or sale of the undeveloped lot simply because the Murrs happen to own the lot next door. The Murrs sued, alleging a taking of the undeveloped parcel under the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.

      The Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled against the Murrs, treating the two properties as one for takings analysis. The court reasoned that no taking occurred because, when the properties were combined, the Murrs retained some usage of the aggregated property.

        Nevada’s brief argues that, consistent with historical practice, legal precedent and sound economic principles, separate parcels should be treated separately for takings purposes, and landowners should not be penalized just because they own other land too.

          “As illustrated most shockingly in Kelo v. City of New London, the law has wrongfully veered toward allowing more takings of property. But our nation’s Founders wisely created the Fifth Amendment to protect property owners from uncompensated takings, and my Office will continue to defend Nevadan’s rights—including their property rights— whenever the government oversteps its bounds,” said Laxalt. “In Nevada, more than 80% of land is already owned by the federal government, and the new rule proposed in the Murr case would only increase its ability to take state and private land without just compensation. As our brief explains, this new rule places more burdens on property owners and could disrupt how property owners normally use their property in ways that benefit society. An unfavorable ruling in this case will impact not only the Murr family in Wisconsin, but other landowners across the country including here in Nevada.”

            The Murr case is currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Nevada is joined by the following states in the filing of this brief in support of the Murr family: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.

              To view the brief, click here.