NFIB's Small Business Legal Center Fights for Your Property Rights

Date: June 25, 2013

Judicial ReviewHorne v. U.S. Department of Agriculture

Status Update:
 NFIB Victory! The Supreme Court held that the Hornes had a right to raise a constitutional objection to the Department of Labor’s attempt to fine them for not surrendering raisins.
NFIB’s Position: We argued that business owners should be allowed to raise a constitutional defense to the taking of their property.
Background information: Our property rights are protected by the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits the government from taking our property without paying just compensation.
Story behind the case: In the 1930s, the Agricultural Adjustment Act and the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act gave the government the power to take certain crops, such as raisins, prunes, dates, etc. Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (which oversees the Raisin Administrative Committee) used this power to take raisin crops produced by farmers. The farmers that did not comply were penalized. The raisin farmers fought back by arguing that their rights are protected under the U.S. Constitution.
DamageArkansas Game & Fish Commission v. United States

Status Update:
 NFIB Victory! The Supreme Court held that property owners may pursue claims for damages when their property is destroyed or damaged by government action.
NFIB’s position: We argued that the government must pay for the damages if it destroys your property.
Story behind the case: The Army Corps of Engineers flooded hundreds of acres of timber owned by the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission. Despite the fact that the flooding continued for eight years, and destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars in timber, the United States refused to pay for any of the damage.
Revoking Property RightsWhite Trust  v. City of Elk River

Status Update:
 The Minnesota Supreme Court recently heard arguments in this case, where the NFIB Legal Center’s arguments were at center stage.
NFIB’s position: We are encouraging the Minnesota Supreme Court to hold that local authorities are constitutionally forbidden from “revoking” a small business owner’s right to continue a long-standing business on private property.
Background information: Constitutional principles generally prohibit local authorities from forcing landowners to remove existing structures from their property, but that doesn’t always stop regulators from seeking to weed out existing businesses with new zoning codes.
Story behind the case: In a dispute nearly thirty years in the making, the City of Elk River decided to revoke the White family’s right to continue running a commercial campground on their land—a business that they have run since the 1970s.
Eminent DomainIlagan v. Ungacta

Status Update: The Supreme Court has decided against taking this case.
NFIB’s position: We are asking the Supreme Court to revisit (and hopefully overturn or limit) the Kelo v. New London, CT decision, which determined that the government can use the power of eminent domain to take private property from one landowner and to give it to another person for a purely private purpose.
Background information: Traditionally, eminent domain has been used for the purpose of acquiring property for public purposes (like building a road or school), but now it is being used to take private property from one person for the benefit of another private person or entity.
Story behind the case: A city initiated eminent domain proceedings to take property owned by the Ilagan family. The Ilagan’s owned an apartment complex and a parking lot for their tenants. The city sought to take away their parking lot and give their property to their next-door neighbor: Mr. Ungacta, who was the Mayor of the City.

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