After you’ve watched the enragifying video in Rich’s post, you can calm yourself with this:
The federal government suffered a major defeat today at the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Arkansas Game & Fish Commission v. United States. In their unanimous decision, the justices rejected the government’s sweeping claim that a series of recurring floods induced by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not qualify as a taking of property under the Fifth Amendment because the flooding was only temporary in duration.
This is, potentially, an even more momentous decision than you think. One of the problems in environmental law is the government has often gotten away with depriving people of the use of their land without technically depriving them of the land itself. This is particularly common with the Endangered Species Act, in which development or even management of a parcel of land is denied because it has an endangered snail.
If the Court had wedged open the idea that depriving someone of the use of something is no different from simply taking it, we could see major changes ahead. Right now, the ruling is narrower than that, applying to specific destruction of property. But the Court’s growing recognition of property rights is a good sign.