Under existing legal precedents, Justice Alito wrote, government regulators were required to demonstrate that any private property being used by the public for mitigation in a development project must be connected to and proportionate to the anticipated public impacts of the project.
Tuesday’s decision is significant because it expands that constitutional protection to include government demands that a permit applicant spend money as part of mitigation related to a development permit.
“Today’s ruling says the Fifth Amendment protects landowners from government extortion, whether the extortion is for money or any other form of property,” said Paul Beard, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation.
Mr. Beard, who argued the case at the high court, said the ruling is a victory for property owners across the country and will protect all land owners in the midst of a government permitting process.
He said the ruling bars government regulators from making extortionate demands of those seeking development permits.
“The ruling underscores that homeowners and other property owners who seek permits to make reasonable use of their property cannot be forced to surrender their rights,” Beard said. “Regulators can’t hold permit applicants hostage with unjustified demands for land or other concessions – including, as in this case, unjustified demands for money.”
The decision establishes that the government must be able to demonstrate a connection between the mitigation required as a condition of a development permit and the harms to be mitigated from the proposed project. The requirement will apply regardless of whether the demanded mitigation is in the form of a transfer of real property or the expenditure of money.