Here’s the latest in a case we’ve been following.
In this cert petition, business owners on the losing end of a Co-19 shutdown order assert that the Sixth Circuit got it wrong when it concluded that the “overriding public purpose” of the shutdown orders should be given what amounts to dispositive weight under the “character of the government action” Penn Central factor.
The Sixth Circuit correctly (in our view) rejected the district court’s rationale that the takings claim could be rejected simply because “the state acts pursuant to its police powers to protect public health.” Slip op. at 15. But the Sixth Circuit didn’t stop there, and affirmed the dismissal because the “character” of responding to the Co-19 emergency was so overwhelming that it outweighed the other two factors (which the court had already concluded “weigh in favor of the Plaintiffs”).
As we explained in an article on emergency takings last year, (“Evaluating Emergency Takings: Flattening the Economic Curve,” 29 Wm & Mary Bill of Rights J. 1145 (2021)), the Penn Central “character” inquiry does not ask about the government’s reasons or motive. That is a due process inquiry. No, the character of the government action inquiry asks about the nature of the intrusion on the owner’s property rights. [Hat tip to the cert petition, which refers to our article several times.]
Here’s the Question Presented:
Is the government required to prove with evidence that its action taken during an emergency which intrudes on private property rights was a necessity in order to be relieved of its duty of compensation for a taking under the Fifth Amendment?