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Landmark Eminent Domain Ruling

by Cary Estes
Landowners no longer will be fenced in by state decisions when it comes to eminent domain cases thanks to a recent Supreme Court ruling. By a 5-4 vote, the high court ruled in Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania, that plaintiffs can go directly to federal court to seek compensation if state or local governments take their property via eminent domain. The ruling overturned, in part, Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, which required plaintiffs to sue in state court. “The Knick decision is game-changing,” says the Institute for Justice’s Robert McNamara. “For 30 years, property owners with constitutional claims have been relegated to second-class status, and they’ve effectively been locked out of federal courthouses.”



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