The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow in the case Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection. That case deals with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Beach Restoration Project. In that case, the Florida DEP, pursuant to a Florida statute, embarked upon a beach restoration project to place sand along 6.9 miles of shoreline bordered by more than 450 parcels of primarily private property.
The property owners alleged that the Florida DEP “pursued their singular goal of replacing a private beach with a public beach without paying compensation by creating an additional 75-foot wide public beach.” The Florida Supreme Court rejected this argument.
The Court granted certification of the appeal regarding 3 questions. Perhaps the most interesting question to be considered is the first one:
The Florida Supreme Court invoked “nonexistent rules of state substantive law" to reverse 100 years of uniform holdings that littoral rights are constitutionally protected. In doing so, did the Florida Court's decision cause a ''judicial taking" proscribed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution?
This issue – whether a decision by a judge can constitute a “taking” – has been referenced but has never been directly addressed by the Court. An opinion deciding this issue could have significant repercussions.