Professor Richard Epstein shares his insight about the U.S. Supreme Court's recent 8-1 decision in Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States, No. 12-1173 (Mar. 10, 2014).
The issue in the case was whether the federal government retained an "implied reversionary interest" when it issued railroad patents to private landowners, or whether these grants were subject only to a railroad easement. The Court concluded they were easements, which means that they were extinguished when the railroad ceased using them as railroads.
Professor Epstein joined an amicus brief filed in support of the property owners in the case, which argued that a contrary ruling would violate "the special need for certainty and predictability where land titles are concerned."