The US Supreme Court wrapped up its January sitting with two oral arguments Wednesday morning.
At issue in Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania is whether a plaintiff must use up state court remedies prior to bringing a Fifth Amendment takings claim. In this case, the township, after finding burial markers on the petitioner’s land, said that the petitioner must make her land accessible to the public as a cemetery. The petitioner filed a lawsuit in state court, which is pending, so she later filed in federal court. The petitioner asserts that the requirement to exhaust state court remedies is “a conflicting and anomalous and mistaken interpretation of the Just Compensation Clause.” The petitioner cited an 1884 case where the court said that plaintiffs are entitled to bring federal action at the moment their property is taken. The respondent argued that if the municipality justly compensates the property owner for the taking, that the Fifth Amendment has not been violated, because the Fifth Amendment permits government takings with compensation. Property owners should wait until the municipality has the opportunity to compensate before filing in federal court.
In Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association v. Blair, the issue is whether the 21st Amendment allows states only to issue liquor licenses to sellers that have resided in the state for a certain amount of time. Tennessee requires applicants to reside in the state for nine years in order to obtain a liquor license, and for corporations, all officers, directors and stockholders must meet the residency requirement. The petitioner, the retail association, stated that the 21st Amendment gives states complete control over regulating the sale of liquor, and the dormant commerce clause does not apply to residency requirements because of Congressional statutes. The respondent stated that the goal of the regulation was “economic protectionism” in violation of the Commerce Clause, and the regulation must withstand strict scrutiny.