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Justice Kennedy gives no hint of retirment

26 June 2017, 03:54 | Gladys Abbott

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The siblings owned two adjacent lots; their cabin was on one of the lots.

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution has a provision called the Takings Clause, which says that private property can not be taken for public use without fair compensation.

Gabe Roth is executive director of Fix the Courts, a national nonprofit that advocates for a more open and accountable U.S. Supreme Court.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Microsoft's legal battle over data stored on foreign servers has escalated slightly this week, with the former bringing the issue to the US Supreme Court.

The long-running case began in December 2013 when a NY district court judge issued a warrant asking Microsoft to produce all emails and private information associated with a certain account (believed to belong to a drug trafficker) hosted by Microsoft.

"We are disappointed the court did not recognize the fundamental unfairness to the Murrs of having their separate properties combined, simply to avoid the protection of the Takings Clause", Groen said. He said the property as a whole remains valuable and the family could not claim they expected to sell or develop lots that were regulated before they acquired them.

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

The Supreme Court has previously held that there is a regulatory taking if the government prevents all economically viable use of a piece of property, University of California at Irvine law dean Erwin Chemerinsky explained in a preview of the case. "Accordingly, we conclude they have not alleged a compensable taking as a matter of law", the per curiam appeals court ruling states.

"It declined to limit the parcel in an artificial manner or to limit what constitutes property interests to those established by state laws".

To resolve the case, Kennedy relied on a multi-factor test that includes state and local laws, the reasonable expectations of the landowners, the physical characteristics of the property, and the effect of the regulation on the land's value. But critics point out that he rarely writes major opinions for the court because his views rarely align with the majority.

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The Murrs' parents transferred both lots to them in 1994 and 1995.

At this point, all this remains conjecture and rumor, since the only person who knows for sure is Justice Kennedy himself. For the Murrs, that analysis concluded they owned a single parcel that retained plenty of value.

A three-judge court in Washington, D.C., had earlier upheld the restrictions.

The United States government has appealed to the Supreme Court there in a case involving usa law enforcement's efforts to gain access to emails held on Microsoft servers in Dublin.

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. The regulations barred building on any lot smaller than one acre of land. But government officials - imposing regulations enacted after both parcels were purchased - have forbidden them from selling or making any productive use of the vacant investment parcel.

The Murrs eventually chose to sell the vacant lot.

The 5-3 ruling involved the family's effort to sell part of its land along the scenic St. Croix River.

Chief Justice John Roberts filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

"The panel majority's decision does not serve any serious, legitimate, or substantial privacy interest", judge José Cabranes wrote in dissent.

In many cases, including the Wisconsin case before the Supreme Court, the proportion of Republicans or Democrats in office may differ significantly from the actual number of voters from either party in each district.

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