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May 11, 2020 by John Echeverria

The Coronavirus and the Takings Clause

Anyone following the news about the coronavirus knows about the vocal opposition by libertarians and other right-wing extremists to government measures designed to control the pandemic. On television, the coverage has focused on angry, gun-toting protesters. But there's another avenue of opposition to the virus-related safeguards, one that's less photogenic but no less divorced from reality. In recent weeks, a number of land and business owners have filed lawsuits claiming stay-at-home orders and business closings represent “takings” of private property under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. These takings claims should be – and likely will be – rejected based on firm U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

In the absence of clear direction from the Trump administration, states have been left largely to themselves to devise emergency rules designed to “flatten the curve’” of new coronavirus cases and reduce the toll of sickness and death. Most states have adopted some subset of now-familiar restrictions, including stay-at- home directives, requirements that “non-essential” businesses shut down, and bans on owners traveling to and using vacation homes. In response to these measures, property owners have filed takings lawsuits in more than half a dozen states across the country, ranging from California to Florida …

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May 11, 2020

The Coronavirus and the Takings Clause