Defending Property Rights against Regulatory Takings

The right to private property has long held great importance in Texas’s laws and in the legal system of the United States as a whole. In fact, property rights are firmly entrenched into the constitutions of each. The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads, “No person shall be… deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” In a similar vein, the Texas Constitution states, “No person’s property shall be taken, damaged or destroyed for or applied to public use without adequate compensation being made, unless by consent of such person.”

However, in spite of both documents’ clearly professed dedication to providing compensation in the event of a taking, the United States and the state of Texas regularly neglect their duty in regard to a particular subset of takings. Known as regulatory takings, this form occurs when government regulations interfere with a landowner’s right to use, develop, and dispose of his or her property. Courts at both the national and state levels have consistently failed to properly compensate property owners in the case of regulatory takings, expressing reservations that government would be forced to pay out excessive sums. The end result is that many owners find their property’s value effectively depleted through regulation without receiving any compensation in return.

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