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Regulatory Takings After Brown

August 2003

Citation: 33 ELR 10626

Issue: 8

Author: John D. Echeverria

This Article attempts to unpack the meaning and significance of the recent decision in Brown v. Legal Foundation of Washington,1 in which the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a takings challenge to Washington State's Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program.

The decision's greatest significance lies in the fact that it preserves state programs that provide approximately $ 200 million per year in funding for legal services for the poor. In terms of immediate, real-world impact, Brown is one of the Court's most important takings decisions. Brown also is remarkable because it represents the second case in a row in which the Court has rejected a regulatory takings claim after a seemingly relentless string of government defeats spanning more than a decade.2

John D. Echeverria is the Executive Director of the Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Institute, which conducts research and education on legal and policy issues relating to protection of the environment and conservation of natural resources. Mr. Echeverria is a graduate of the Yale Law School and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and formerly served as General Counsel and Conservation Director of American Rivers and as General Counsel of the National Audubon Society. He has written extensively on the regulatory takings issue and other environmental law topics.

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