Supremes to rule on state's 'improvement' that destroyed farm

October 15, 2023
World Net Daily

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

The Supreme Court has agreed to rule on a fight in Texas where the government built a concrete barrier along a highway – and that project now has caused several devastating floods on a farmer's property, essentially destroying its worth.

It is the Institute for Justice that confirmed the high court will hear the case brought on behalf of farmer Richie DeVillier and his family.

"If there is one basic principle in property law, it’s the Pottery Barn Rule: You break it, you buy it," explained IJ lawyer Robert McNamara. "The Fifth Circuit’s decision in this case amounts to ‘you pay if you feel like it.’ But the Constitution’s Takings Clause demands more."

The IJ explained the problem developed for DeVillier, of Winnie, Texas, on the farm his grandfather bought in the 1930s.

"For most of that history, the land never flooded. Then, in the early 2000s, the Texas Department of Transportation renovated nearby Interstate 10, raising its height, adding two lanes, and installing a concrete barrier in the median. Now, every time the area receives heavy rainfall, Richie’s land turns into a lake," the IJ said.

The result is destroyed crops and dead farm animals.

"When the DeVilliers sought to be paid for the destruction, the state refused. And when the family sued, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that they couldn’t – because Congress has never passed a law allowing citizens to sue states for taking property, the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of 'just compensation' was unenforceable," the IJ said.

"This isn’t just about our family farm, it’s about the state of Texas respecting the rights of its citizens," the farmer explained. "The Supreme Court’s decision to take our case signifies a crucial step towards holding Texas accountable for its actions."

"No American should have to worry that the government will destroy their property and leave them holding the bag," said IJ Chief Counsel Scott Bullock. “A victory in this case will guarantee that all Americans have the right to be made whole when the government takes their property—and not just when the government feels like paying."

WND reported earlier when the dispute arose.

McNamara explained, "There is not an asterisk next to the Fifth Amendment that says the government doesn’t have to pay just compensation if it doesn’t want to. The Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed Americans’ right to just compensation is an inherent part of the Constitution. It cannot be ignored or circumvented by the government or the courts."

"This case is about holding the government accountable and ensuring that the Constitution’s protections for property owners are respected,” said Bullock.

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