Supreme Court Upholds Fifth Amendment Rights for Small Businesses

Date: April 12, 2024

Sheetz v. County of El Dorado, California concerns building permit exactions

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 12, 2024) – NFIB applauds today’s decision in Sheetz v. County of El Dorado, California at the United States Supreme Court. The Court held that the Takings Clause does not distinguish between legislative and administrative permit conditions. NFIB joined The Buckeye Institute in filing an amicus brief in the case.

“The small business community is relieved by the Court’s ruling. This decision upholds their Fifth Amendment rights and ensures that future business owners will not be coerced to trade their constitutional rights over confusing government semantics,” said Beth Milito, Executive Director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center. “Small business owners deserve to have their constitutional rights protected, regardless of what governing body is regulating them.”

The case questioned whether the unconstitutional conditions doctrine applies to legislatively-imposed building permit exactions. In this case, a California property owner sought to build a manufactured house on his land and obtain the necessary permit. In exchange for the permit, the County imposed a monetary exaction over $23,000 in order to finance road improvements in the county. Because the exaction was authorized by legislation, lower courts held that it is not an unconstitutional condition. NFIB’s brief argued that the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause does not distinguish between unconstitutional conditions imposed by administrative personnel and those imposed by legislative bodies.

The NFIB Small Business Legal Center protects the rights of small business owners in the nation’s courts. NFIB is currently active in more than 40 cases in federal and state courts across the country and in the U.S. Supreme Court.

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