In 1922, Scranton, Pennsylvania was said to be on the verge of collapsing into the vast coal mines beneath the city; residents, buildings, and streets alike were being swallowed up by “suddenly yawning chasms.” State legislators responded by unanimously passing a law meant to save the region, where about a million people lived, from total desolation. But when the law reached the Supreme Court, the justices struck it down, ruling that it would be an unconstitutional “regulatory taking” to force coal companies to leave their coal in the ground. On this episode, we go to nearby Pittston, Pennsylvania to find out what happened to the house at the center of the case. Did it—or Scranton—fall into the pits? After that, we trace the major developments in regulatory takings doctrine, which protect against regulations that go “too far.” But we wind up in a bit of a fog. Plus! This episode will have an unsolved murder—and some Supreme Court trivia: did you know a future Supreme Court justice argued the case on behalf of Scranton (at least in state court)?

Click here for transcript.

Pennsylvania Coal v. Mahon

Penn Central v. New York City

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