I have just added Cornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in 21st Century America by Timothy Sandefur to my current reading rotation and even though I am just getting started I can tell this is going to a #facepalm sort of book. The early part of the book takes a quick survey of some of the more outrageous property rights cases, such as the case where a Toyota dealership was condemned so the property could be taken via eminent domain…to give to the BMW dealership next door.
The first case that gave me a quote worthy section involved a case where Tahoe Regional Planning Agency instituted a “temporary” moratorium on all construction that stretched on for 6 years. Some 700 landowners filed suit claiming the the moratorium amounted to the government “taking” their property as they were not allowed to make any use of it. The court decisions, including the Supreme Court decision, held that since the moratorium was “temporary,” the landowners would still be able to use their land….someday. At least those who had not died before the case was finally heard at the Supreme Court, 20 years after the moratorium was issued.
The quote comes from the description of the decision by Justice Stevens:
And in any case, Stevens continued, government takes so much property from so many people that it can’t possibly afford to pay for it. Seriously enforcing the just compensation requirement “would transform government regulation into a luxury few governments could afford…[and] render routine government processes prohibitively expensive…” Since government doesn’t have the money, it can just ignore the Constitution’s compensation requirement.
Personally, I don’t see the problem with government regulation, as opposed to objective laws, becoming a luxury that governments cannot afford.