SCOTUSBlog’s Lyle Denniston reports that oral argument did not appear to go very well for the landowners in Koontz v. St. Johns River Management Authority.
Something really big, and potentially decisive, happened to a major new property rights case between the time the Supreme Court took it on, and Tuesday’s argument by lawyers before the Court. The very idea that an unconstitutional “taking” had occurred to an owner of a small plot of ground in Florida seemed near to vanishing, propelled toward oblivion by a spreading fear on the bench that maybe the entire regulatory apparatus of government might be at risk. Credit lawyers for a state agency and the federal government for deepening this anxiety. . . .
The owner’s claim that there had been a “taking” had been strenuously assailed by Justice Antonin Scalia, whose vote the landowner almost certainly had to have. That was probably the most menacing development for Koontz. But the worry that seemed to spread across the bench, that a victory for Koontz might well pull the government’s public works projects into constant constitutional court battles, spelled trouble, too.
Denniston is almost certainly correct that if the landowners have lost Justice Scalia, they won’t win the case. Here’s another report from Lawrence Hurley of Greenwire.
For more on the Koontz case, see here.