What is wrong with this SCOTUS ruling on the "rights of private property owners"?

I came upon this and after reading it I couldn’t tell why this should be considered a controversial ruling:

"In a 5-4 decision powered by the conservative justices with the liberals in dissent, the court shored up the rights of private property holders in governmental disputes, ruling in favor of a Pennsylvania woman fighting a town ordinance aimed at keeping cemeteries on private land open to the public.

The ruling, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, overruled a 1985 Supreme Court decision that had forced property owners facing a government-led takeover of land for public purposes to seek compensation under state law before bringing a claim in federal court."

This sounds like something better for the people? Curious on what others here think?

Sorry, here is the link:

I would like to hear @Safiel take on this.

After reading the article, I now must look up the dissenting opinion and find out what was stated there.

But I would tell Kagan, as I would have told Breyer in the other decision mentioned (based on their quotes in the linked article), that slippery slope arguments suck, and if that’s why they dissented in those two cases…because they were worried about what other precedents might be overturned next…then they should take a long hard look at themselves because they weren’t ruling on the case before them.

One issue according to the Scranton PA lawyer who fought against this ruling;

“For hundreds of years, it has been the law in Pennsylvania and many other states that cemetery property is different — that a person or corporation who acquires land on which grave sites have been consecrated may not simply pave them over or forbid bereaved family from visiting,” Sachs said. “We are confident that no court — federal or state — would find it unconstitutional to hold the plaintiff to these responsibilities.”

I get what you’re saying.

You don’t think the slippery slope is real with the judiciary? Not the previous votes only, but in general?

I would argue the SCOTUS is the slipperiest slope of all.

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The slippery slope is real in a lot of cases…but the way to combat it, in the judiciary at least, is not to give in to it, but to confine one’s rulings to the actual facts of the case in front of you. In other words, if you want to argue on precedent, argue whether precedent should be upheld or overturned based on the facts of the case before you and not because you’re worried an unrelated precedent you happen to agree with might be overturned some time in the future.

Maybe the dissenters did actually believe the precedents that were presented to them in the two cases in the article actually should have been upheld…their dissent should be confined to their reasons why on these precedents alone.

Just my opinion.

Thanks for the link. I’m still a bit confused by this case. Who actually owns cemetery property? And how did the woman in the case acquire it? This seems to be related to the issue of eminent domain? In any case it doesn’t seem like to me this was some major precedent overturned.

Justice Kagan complained that it would bring too many “local” property disagreements to federal court, but it seems to me that if the “local” regulations might be deemed unconstitutional, that is where they belong. It shouldn’t take many rulings to clarify to localities what they can and cannot do. Overall it sounds fairly positive to me.

Some cemeteries are on private property.

Not familiar with all the inner workings of the judiciary…shouldn’t the unconstitutionality of a local ordinance first be adjudicated at the state constitutional level?

Absolutely. In what has become a hotly debated subject though, the likelihood of them ending up in federal court is high.

This case is of keen interest to me personally, as I own substantial land holdings in several states. Having a direct path to Federal court is clearly helpful, should I ever run into litigation situation.

A uncle of mine who lives just west of Akron, Ohio does have a tiny cemetery on his property, which was in use from the 1880’s to 1920’s, when that land was farmland. The cemetery was already abandoned and crumbling when he acquired the land in the late 1960’s. In his case its never been an issue. It is at the corner of his property, well away from his house and adjacent to a major roadway. He simply fenced it off and maintains signage along the roadway that people may enter the cemetery only during daylight hours for lawful purposes, with no trespassing signs on the fence and elsewhere to keep people off the rest of his property. But many thousands of these mimi-cemeteries exist, so it clearly is a legal issue.

Speaking only in regards to the issue before the Supreme Court, I agree fully with the Supreme Court issue and I take a much more limited view of stare decisis. While the Supreme Court should not overturn previous precedent lightly, neither should they be locked into bad precedent. I do believe when it comes to private property, prompt access to the Federal Courts is important.

As for what the Federal Courts should rule in regards to the cemetery in question, I have not read enough yet to say.

I would assume that is a very unique situation, although being from NJ I may have a shortsighted view of this.

The days of restricting to the case in front of them are long gone. This is how we legislate now.

I know. I live in the real world even as my spirit lives in the ideal one.


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My uncle in upstate NY has one from the nineteenth century on his property as does a relative of Safiel. In my uncle’s case, it is highly unlikely there will ever be an issue, as there is access to it from the dirt road the house is on and judging by the difficulty to get there and the mountainous terrain, it is unlikely to ever be developed.

How often has prior SCOTUS precedent actually been overturned?

I’m getting a better sense of the issue now. Clearly this is a unique type of situation in which the views of both sides can be appreciated.

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We should always err on the side of the property owner.

It’s usually insidious. More of a drift, piece by piece.