U.S. Chamber Position on Private Property Rights
Ensure that federal statutes, regulations, and policies do not unnecessarily restrict private property rights, and that private property owners are justly compensated for reductions in the value of their property caused by government actions that restrict property use.
Summary of the Issue
Private property rights are one of the most valued provisions of the U.S. Constitution. Yet more and more often, property owners are subjected to regulatory "takings"— where the use of their land is drastically restricted and, consequently, the overall value of the land diminishes.
Although such regulatory takings give rise to a federal constitutional claim under the Fifth Amendment, property owners are barred from seeking redress in federal courts as the unfortunate result of two irreconcilable U.S. Supreme Court opinions. In Williamson County Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank (1985), the Court decided that property owners must litigate all Fifth Amendment takings claims in state court before they could file in federal court. But in San Remo Hotel v. City and County of San Francisco, California (2005), the Court held that property owners who had adjudicated their Fifth Amendment takings claims in state court were precluded from seeking federal court review. Together, these two cases serve to bar property owners from ever having their constitutional claims heard on the merits in federal court.
In an effort to correct this profound inequity, the U.S. Chamber helped to pass on September 29, 2006, H.R. 4772, "The Private Property Rights Implementation Act of 2006," which would allow property owners access to federal court for their Fifth Amendment takings claims. The Senate received the bill on September 30, 2006, and the Chamber will work to ensure that it is taken up by the 110th Congress.
U.S. Chamber Strategy
- Continue to monitor and, when necessary, oppose federal legislation and regulations that further restrict private property rights.
- Support federal legislation that clearly defines the meaning of the term "takings" to include not only physical occupation, but regulated uses and diminished value as well.
- Support litigation involving property takings issues and other private property rights.
- Monitor legislation and litigation as it relates to the impacts of the Endangered Species Act, often viewed as the most onerous property rights regulation.
Staff Contact Information
Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs Division