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'Victory for Property Rights'

July 15, 1987

Peirce's intemperate outburst over the Supreme Court's "taking issue" decision in the Lutheran Church case displays a woeful lack of understanding on his part as to what the court decided. All the court did was to reiterate the rule that has been with us since the 1932 decision in Hurley v. Kincaid, that once governmental acts so destroy private property rights as to cause their de facto taking, the remedy of "just compensation" is required by the express words of the Constitution. This is true whether the taking is permanent or temporary, and cannot be denied by a state, any more than a state can deny its citizens the equal protection of the laws, or freedom of speech, or any other constitutionally guaranteed liberties.

It is sheer nonsense for Peirce to assert that under the decision landowners can collect "big bucks" for not being able to build as quickly or as "environmentally destructively" as they wish. The court said nothing of the sort. Peirce is guilty of gross distortion of the court's ruling.

What the Court did say is that when governmental regulations is so onerous that it destroys all reasonable use of private property, its owner is entitled to have a day in court and make his claim of a taking, while the government is entitled to show that its regulation is sufficiently important to withstand constitutional scrutiny.

GIDEON KANNER

Los Angeles

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