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Supreme Court Rules Property Owners Have the Right to Legally Defend Their Property in Pipeline Takings

ARLINGTON, Va.—Today’s 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in PennEast Pipeline Co., LLC, v. New Jersey is a quiet but vitally important victory for private property owners nationwide.

The federal government had urged the Supreme Court to use this case to announce a sweeping rule under which landowners defending against a condemnation for a natural-gas pipeline would not be permitted to raise any objections at all to the taking of their property. In other words, the government wanted to use a case where no private property owners were even before the Court to strip landowners across the country of their basic rights.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court today roundly rejected the government’s efforts, holding—as the Institute for Justice argued in its amicus brief in the case—that property owners are free to “assert[] a defense against the condemnation proceedings initiated” by private pipeline companies wielding the federal government’s power of eminent domain.

Bob McNamara, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, said, “The federal government’s arguments in this case were sweeping, dangerous, and wrong, and the federal government’s loss is a win for property rights everywhere.”

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