Check out these two amici briefs, just filed in a case we’ve been following, about what a property owner who is awarded just compensation in a state court eminent domain lawsuit is supposed to do if the local government that is ordered to pay the just compensation judgment … doesn’t. 

The property owner sued the local government — a Louisiana Port District — in U.S. District Court, alleging a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. That court dismissed for failure to state a claim. The property owner appealed to the Fifth Circuit. 

Several amici have joined together to file two briefs in support of the property owner: 

The IJ brief focuses on the long-standing requirement that just compensation be provided at the time of the taking:

The decision below held that Appellants have no Fifth Amendment claim because they have already received a judgment in their favor and a mere “delay” in paying cannot give rise to a Fifth Amendment violation. The district court cited no law for these propositions. Nor could it have: Its holding runs squarely contrary to 800 years of precedent, dating back to Magna Carta.

The just-compensation requirement dates back at least to the signing of Magna Carta in 1215. Among the grievances of the barons who compelled King John to sign Magna Carta was the King’s abuse of the royal prerogative of “purveyance.” Purveyance was, as Blackstone explained, the right of the king to “bu[y] up provisions and other necessaries *** at an appraised valuation, in preference to all others, and even without consent of the owner.” 1 William Blackstone, Commentaries *277. In other words, purveyance was a species of what we now call eminent domain. See Little Rock Junction Ry. v. Woodruff, 5 S.W. 792, 793 (Ark. 1887) (“[Eminent domain] bears a striking analogy to the king’s ancient prerogative of purveyance, which was recognized and regulated by the twenty-eighth section of magna charta”).

Br. at 4-5. 

The NFIB brief focuses on the state court’s just compensation judgment as a separately-recognized and protected species of property that was taken without compensation when the Port refused to pay it:

For that matter, a party entitled to a monetary judgment stands in the same position as any creditor. They hold a protected property right in the value of the outstanding debt and are entitled to immediate payment — or payment for the fair market value of what was taken in the context of an eminent domain judgment. Therefore, any appropriation of these property rights necessarily implicates the Takings Clause and the categorical rules the Supreme Court applies in physical appropriation cases.

Br. at 9.  

We shall continue to follow along with this case. 

Brief of Amici Curiae Institute for Justice, Pelican Institute, and Mississippi Justice Institute in Suppor… 

Brief of Amici Curiae NFIB Small Business Legal Center, Southeastern Legal Foundation, and the Cato