U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against Federal Government and Sides with Kansas and other States on Property Rights / Land-use Issue

Topeka, Kan. – The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Kansas and other states, reversing a lower court ruling that had upheld an Obama-era restriction on private property, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.

In a unanimous 8-0 decision, the Supreme Court reversed a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that had allowed the federal government to designate land as “critical habitat” for an endangered species, the dusky gopher frog, without finding that the land constitutes “habitat” for the species. The Supreme Court also allowed a challenge to the federal government’s decision not to exclude a tract of land from the critical habitat designation to proceed, reversing the 5th Circuit’s holding that the government’s action was not subject to judicial review.

“This ruling is a victory for private property rights and against heavy-handed federal overreach,” Schmidt said. “It would seem to be common sense that the federal government cannot designate land as ‘critical habitat’ when the land is not ‘habitat,’ but that is precisely what the lower court allowed to federal government to do. This decision confirms the common-sense view that the government may not infringe private property rights unless it adheres to the protections for those rights that the law provides.”

Kansas and 19 other states had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the plaintiffs. A copy of that brief is available at http://bit.ly/2RkhkPK. A copy of the Court’s opinion is available at http://bit.ly/2KCIYoy.