WASHINGTON, DC: Critical issue for property owners across the U.S. - Earlier this term, SLF filed an amicus brief in Oil States Energy Services arguing that requiring a property owner to litigate a taking claim before an Article I tribunal rather than allowing him a trial by jury in an Article III court violates the Constitution. SLF also filed an amicus brief in Brott v. United States, urging the Supreme Court to take the case and decide whether Congress may take private property and deny the property owner the ability to vindicate his right to just compensation in an Article III court with a trial by jury.
As we wait for a decision in Oil States (argued before SCOTUS in November) and a grant or denial in Brott, SLF filed an amicus brief in Sammons v. United States, asking the Supreme Court to take the case and answer the same question presented in Brott. SLF, joined by Owners’ Counsel of America, National Association of Reversionary Property Owners, and several professors, filed a critical amicus brief supporting property owners challenging the denial of a property owner’s right to trial by jury when the government tries to take their property through the power of eminent domain.
The lower courts are split on the issue. Some, like the Sixth and Federal Circuits, allow the federal government to take your property and never have to answer to a jury. The decisions of those circuits conflict with the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent. Less than 20 years ago, the Supreme Court held that because parties asserting takings claims seek compensation, those claims would have been heard by a court of laws (Article III court) at the time the Seventh Amendment was ratified. The Supreme Court has never barred a party from a trial by jury simply because the federal government seeks to exempt itself from such scrutiny, and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has no reason to do so here.
Click here for SCOTUS amicus brief