The U.S. Supreme Court today called a halt to a government “shakedown” procedure in Florida that tried to require a landowner to pay up to $150,000 in order to be allowed to develop several acres of ground.
“Extortionate demands for property in the land-use permitting context run afoul of the Takings Clause not because they take property but because they impermissibly burden the right not to have property taken without just compensation,” the opinion said. “It is settled that the unconstitutional conditions doctrine applies even when the government threatens to withhold a gratuitous benefit.”
The opinion came in the case where a water district in Florida demanded a property owner pay up to $150,000 in order to get permission to develop some land originally purchased by his father.
The case was argued by the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of the Koontz family of Florida.
The non-profit group had said it wanted the Supreme Court “to make it clear that the Constitution forbids any kind of shakedown in the permitting process: money grabs (such as the Koontz family was hit with) are just as unconstitutional as land grabs.”
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