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Government can’t invent excuses to escape takings liability

Murr v. State of Wisconsin and St. Croix County


Contact: John M. Groen

Status: The U.S. Supreme Court granted the Petition for Writ of Certiorari on January 15, 2016. The reply brief on the merits filed on July 29, 2016. Oral Argument will begin on March 20, 2017.
 
Summary:
Represented by PLF, the Murr family has fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to stop bureaucrats from robbing them of a family legacy — a vacant parcel along the St. Croix River in Wisconsin that their late parents purchased in the early 1960s as a family investment.

The six children of the late William Murr (a South St. Paul plumber) and his wife Dorothy, want to sell the vacant parcel, to fund repair of their family’s cabin, which sits on a separate, adjacent lot that their parents bought several years earlier.

But government officials — imposing regulations that weren’t in place when the property was purchased — have forbidden the Murrs from selling or making any productive use of the vacant parcel. To avoid liability for an unconstitutional taking, officials are arbitrarily treating both lots as if they were a single unified parcel, even though the two parcels were bought by the Murrs’ parents at different times and are legally distinct.

The Murrs’ case poses a precedent-setting question: Can government take property without compensation simply because the owner happens to also own adjacent land? Are people denied constitutional protections for their property rights if government decides they own “too much” property?

 

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