Protecting landowners from punitive state eminent domain laws is the goal of an Ohio Farm Bureau legal brief recently submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Ohio is one of only three states in which landowners are forced to endure a multiple step legal process with exceptionally difficult standards that results in burdensome legal expenses for both the landowner and taxpayers. Supreme Court precedent currently prohibits Ohioans from appealing to federal court to address government property takings. Ohio Farm Bureau’s brief seeks to overturn precedent and gain landowners the option to appeal directly to a federal court.
This is the first time in the nearly 100 year history of Ohio Farm Bureau that the organization has participated in a case before the Supreme Court of the United States.
“Engaging in a case before the Supreme Court was not a decision we took lightly,” said Adam Sharp, Ohio Farm Bureau executive vice president. “Ohio landowners deserve fair treatment when the state decides to take private property. We hope our participation results in a ruling favorable to Ohioans and property owners across the nation.” He added that protecting private property rights is a priority issue for Farm Bureau.
An example of why Ohioans need relief from current law dates to 1997, when the State of Ohio expanded the spillway of Grand Lake St. Marys in Mercer County. The state refused to compensate 80 landowners who were subjected to frequent and severe flooding from the spillway expansion. The state employed numerous tactics to delay landowners from receiving their constitutionally required compensation. Eventually, the state was ordered to fairly pay the landowners, but the process took nearly 10 years before payments were made. This drawn out process created massive legal fees for the landowners and was unnecessarily expensive for Ohio taxpayers.
OFBF engaged the law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease to prepare the amicus brief. The firm has a long-term relationship with Ohio Farm Bureau and has extensive experience with the workings of the nation’s highest court. The brief was submitted in the Knick v. Township of Scott, Pa. case.
Oral arguments before the Supreme Court are expected sometime in the session beginning in October with a ruling expected by next summer.