Trails Act Federal Excuse to Grab Private Property - SLF Joins Federal Appeals Brief
ATLANTA/WASHINGTON, DC (Dec. 29, 2016): Southeastern Legal Foundation joined with the Property Rights Foundation of America in submitting an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit supporting private property owners’ right to just compensation in a case involving the Iowa property now claimed by the federal government under the Trails Act. Caquelin, et al v. United States, 2016-1663.
The Constitution requires the government to compensate property owners when it takes property. This includes land taken under the Trails Act, which authorizes a national system of trails largely used for outdoor recreational purposes. For decades, the government has tried to shortchange property owners by offering them insulting sums for their property – sums that courts frequently shutdown as anything but “just compensation.”
Seemingly frustrated after another loss, the government is now asking the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to review a Trails Act case and overturn its prior decisions and instead find that Trails Act takings are only temporary regulatory takings, not physical takings, where the recreational trail has not yet been constructed. In other words, it wants to take private property and pay the owners nothing until it decides it wants to use the property. Fortunately for property owners, that is not what our Founders had in mind when they drafted the Takings Clause.
Earlier this week, SLF filed an amicus brief supporting property owners’ rights to just compensation – regardless of whether the government takes the property pursuant to Trails Act or other means.