Big cases, retirement rumors as Supreme Court nears finish


"In at least some cases, today's indeed ruling allows the government to avoid compensating property owners for the taking of their land, merely because they also own the lot next door", he writes.

A Wisconsin appeals court sided with the state and local county in 2014, saying officials had not deprived the family of their property because both lots were contiguous and could be sold or developed together.

Under the regulations, they could build a house that was bigger than the existing one, but they could not have two houses on the two lots, which now were considered merged into one.

In April, Trump told the Washington Times that he would be using the same list of 21 potential Supreme Court nominees he released while campaigning for presidency if any vacancies opened up on the bench.

Given the test laid out in the ruling, Kennedy said, the Murrs' property "should be evaluated as a single parcel".

The decision did not provide the clear guidance many in the development industry had hoped it would.

Roberts said he was not troubled by the majority's "bottom-line conclusion" that the property owners were not entitled to compensation.

The case had been closely watched by both property rights advocates and governments. They challenged the regulations in the state courts as an unconstitutional taking.

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The state's attorney general, Republican Brad Schimel, called the ruling a "victory for the rule of law in Wisconsin". But the question after his confirmation hearings was how far to the right he would be.

Kennedy has given no public sign that he will retire this year and give Donald Trump a second high court pick in the first months of his administration, which would allow conservatives to take firm control of the court. The two lots were jointly conveyed to four of their children in 1994 and 1995. However, Kennedy, speaking for himself, said that a future case might meet the standard. Indeed, such regulations often enhance that value, he said, as they did here. The Supreme Court's newest member, Justice Neil Gorsuch, did not participate in the case.

In July 2016 it looked like Microsoft had won in front of the 3 judge panel, but the U.S. government did not let the case lie and appealed to the full 8 judge panel. Murr's parents bought the land in the 1960s, built a cabin on one parcel, and left the other parcel undeveloped as a long-term investment. Each of the Murrs' lots is roughly 1.25 acres, but because of the water and a steep bluff, neither, alone, has a whole acre of buildable area.

The Murrs eventually made a decision to sell the vacant lot.

In effect, the Murr family argues, the government-mandated merger of their properties stripped them of almost half a million dollars, as they are now unable sell Lot E. They claim that this constitutes a violation of the Constitution's takings clause, which prohibits the government from seizing private property for public use without "just compensation".

The White House declined to comment Sunday on speculation that a pivotal US Supreme Court justice might announce his retirement on Monday, the last day of the high court's current session. And although state law is relevant to the inquiry, the majority could not accept Wisconsin's proposal to define the denominator based on state law as a whole: Courts must also "weigh [] whether the state enactments at issue accord with other indicia of reasonable expectations about property".

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: The Constitution bars the taking of private property by the government without just compensation.

Olivier Douliery - Pool via CNP/NewscomWhen governments issue regulations that undermine the value of property, bureaucrats don't necessarily have to compensate property holders, the Supreme Court ruled Friday.