June 5th, 2023 2 Minute Read Amicus Brief by Ilya Shapiro

Amicus Brief: Sheetz v. County of El Dorado

George Sheetz applied to the County of El Dorado, California, for a permit to build a modest house on his property. As a condition of obtaining the permit, he was required to pay a monetary exaction of $23,420 to help finance unrelated road improvements. The county demanded payment even though it made no individualized determination that the exaction—a substantial sum for Mr. Sheetz—bore an “essential nexus” and “rough proportionality” to the purported impacts associated with his project, as required by the Supreme Court in its now-canonical Nollan (1987) and Dolan (1994) cases.

After Sheetz challenged the exaction, a California trial court held that, because it was authorized by legislation (county ordinance), it was immune from Nollan/Dolan review. The court of appeals affirmed, and the state supreme court declined review. So, it seems that California has judicially created an exemption from constitutional scrutiny of legislative exactions, in conflict with a slew of federal and state courts.

Sheetz has now filed a cert petition and MI joined a supporting amicus brief prepared by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and joined by three other organizations. We argue that the plain text of the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause protects property rights regardless of which branch of government is involved and that there’s no ill effect from providing judicial review of legislative exactions.

Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow and director of Constitutional Studies at the Manhattan Institute. Follow him on Twitter here.

Photo by DNY59/iStock


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