In "When Government Takes You Hostage," lawprof Richard Epstein weighs in on the issues in Koontz v. St Johns River Water Mgmt Dist., No. 11-1447 (cert. granted Oct. 5, 2012). In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court will address whether the "essential nexus" and "rough proportionality" standards of Nollan and Dolan are applicable only to exactions for land, or whether they are generally-applicable tests for all exactions.
Professor Epstein writes:
The situation that is now before the Supreme Court in Koontz shows the folly of the current law, which rejects the long-established common law baselines between neighbors. No longer does the state have to take (and pay just compensation) to satisfy its environmental goals. Rather, the entire mitigation doctrine amounts to nothing more than a form of grand theft larceny by which the state first claims for nothing a state-wide environmental easement, which it will then sell back to the landowner for the (mitigation) price that it regards as acceptable by its own standards. It is, quite literally, no better than allowing the state to confiscate land for nothing, which it then duly sells back to its original owner for a price. Ransom money involves the same dubious strategy.
We filed an amicus brief in the case in support of the property owner/petitioner. The property owner's brief on the merits is available here. The other amicus briefs supporting the property owner are available here, here, and here. The Water Management District's merits brief is posted here. The amicus briefs suporting the Water District are posted here.
Oral arguments are scheduled for January 15, 2013.