Defending a family’s hopes, dreams — and property rights — and everyone’s legacy of liberty

Coastal Land Rights Project LighthouseThe Pacific Legal Foundation case of Murr v. Wisconsin and St. Croix County – now before the Supreme Court of the United States – is the story of a loving family defending a cherished legacy from their parents.

Decades ago, the late William Murr (a South St. Paul plumber) and his wife Dorothy bought a vacant parcel along the St. Croix River in Wisconsin, to pass down to their children as a family investment. But William and Dorothy's six adult children have had to fight all the way to the nation’s highest court to stop bureaucrats from robbing them of the use of that bequest..

The six siblings' dream was to sell this parcel in order to fund repair of a beloved family cabin, a gathering place for members of every generation of the extended Murr family, which sits on an adjacent lot that their parents bought several years before purchasing the vacant parcel. However, government officials stepped in and thwarted these plans. Imposing regulations that weren't in place when either parcel was purchased, they have forbidden the Murrs from selling or making any productive use of the vacant parcel.

They have also concocted a creative rationale to avoid liability for an unconstitutional taking. They 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.


Represented by PLF attorneys, 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?

Coastal Land Rights Project Lighthouse

"My Dad was a true soldier and servant of our country and believed strongly in our Constitution," says Donna Murr, one of the six Murr siblings. "Mom and Dad would be very proud of how they raised us kids and how we're standing up for what we believe in. If they were alive, they would have fought for the family's property rights - and everyone's property rights - just as we are doing."

"It is a privilege to represent the Murrs in defense of principles that are fundamental to our Constitution," said PLF General Counsel John Groen. "This is about justice for a family that has been wronged by local land use regulations, but it is also about everyone's property rights, from coast to coast. We are seeking to reaffirm that government can't use creative regulatory maneuvers to take property without compensation."

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PLF Is Back In The Supreme Court March 20, 2017 

PLF Director of Litigation Jim Burling, interviews client Donna Murr, PLF General Counsel John Groen and PLF Attorney Dave Breemer about Murr's case which will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on March 20, 2017.


St. Croix land use battle goes to Supreme Court

"The US Supreme Court will hear a property rights case that originated with a family's attempt to sell a lot adjacent to their cabin along the St. Croix River."

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St. Croix River Family takes Land Use Fight to US Supreme Court

"A metro family has taken their land rights fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Murr family St. Croix River cabin has been in the family for nearly 60 years. The cabin sits on one of two lots William and Dorothy Murr purchased in the 1960's. The first lot, was to build a cabin on in 1960 and the second, as an investment property. Before their deaths, the Murr parents passed the parcels along to their kids."

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Murr v. State of Wisconsin: Esoteric Regulatory Takings Question Could Affect All Homeowners

"Although the question at issue in Murr is somewhat esoteric, the answer has the potential to affect the public at large. Indeed, this issue crops up more frequently than one would assume."

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Finding the Denominator in Regulatory Takings Cases: A Preview of Murr v. Wisconsin

"The Supreme Court will take up an important property rights case that has been nearly forty years in the making. At issue in Murr v. Wisconsin is whether governments may treat two contiguous, commonly owned but legally distinct parcels of land as a single parcel for the purposes of regulatory takings liability."

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 Family delighted that property rights dispute gets U.S. Supreme Court hearing

“My dream is to fly out and listen to our attorneys argue before the U.S. Supreme Court, and I will pinch myself that it is really happening,” said Donna Murr. “Nobody granted review through our state courts, but now, by the luck of God, the U.S. Supreme Court is going to review it."

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Family's fight over vacation land goes to U.S. Supreme Court

“This litigation asks whether government can get away with telling property owners, in essence, 'The more land you own, the less we'll allow you to use,'" Groen said.

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Media Inquiry Contacts


                                 Kate Pomeroy                                     Harold Johnson

                                 Media Director, PLF D.C. Center                                  Director of Communications                                                                                Phone: (202) 888-6881                                                Phone: (916) 419-7111                                                                                E-Mail:                                      E-Mail: