Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Murr v. Wisconsin

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20082
Nos. 15–214, (U.S., 06/23/2017) (Kennedy, J.)

The Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, decided that the owners of a family cottage were not entitled to compensation over development regulations that bar the sale of the family's adjacent lot. The family wanted to sell the lot to finance an upgrade to their cottage, and argued that St. Croix County, Wisconsin, had taken their land through strict shoreline development and conservation rules and should pay just compensation for that loss under the Fifth Amendment. St. Croix County and the state of Wisconsin argued that the family owned a contiguous parcel that, taken as a whole with the restricted parcel, would accommodate a home and that the family had lost no value. The Court rejected the state's position that the Court should treat contiguous parcels as one whenever state law indicates, in favor of a three-factor balancing test: the treatment of the land under state and local law; the physical characteristics of the land; and the prospective value of the regulated land. Considering these factors, the majority determined that these parcels of land should be considered as a single parcel since local law indicates them as such, as well as the prospective value one lot adds to the other as far as privacy and recreation are concerned. Given this determination, the Court held that petitioners did not suffer a taking as they have not been deprived of all economically beneficial use of their property. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals' judgment was affirmed. Dissenting, Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Thomas and Alito, wrote that the majority opinion undermines the protections guaranteed by the Takings Clause. Justice Roberts argued that it would be better to adopt the presumption in favor of treating the parcels as separate. Writing separately, Justice Thomas suggested that the Court take a fresh look at its regulatory takings jurisprudence to see whether it can be "be grounded in the original public meaning of the Takings Clause." Murr v. Wisconsin, No. 15–214, 47 ELR 20082 (U.S. June 23, 2017) (Kennedy, J.).