Supreme Court sides with Wyoming landowner; gov't faces compensation claims on 10,000 properties in 30 states

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  • Homer1 MIDVALE, UT
    March 11, 2014 3:49 p.m.

    After reading the comments I am thinking this is less about a victory against anything like the government and more a victory for due process and respect for rule of law. If the government just takes something because they're big and powerful, then that's tyranny. If they work to establish public interests through respectful deliberations within the law, then that's rule of law.

    In the reality of competing interests the law helps create the framework for working things out through compensation, negotiations, and recognition of ownership. Then we're balancing between competing interests, not "winning" or defeating our opponents.

  • RRSJD Central Point, OR
    March 11, 2014 3:42 p.m.

    Two outcomes come from this ruling, it dampens attempts of the federal government to overstep and assert ownership on the thinnest thread of theory. Secondly, it demonstrates the liberal mind of Justice Soto Mayor in contending that this ruling was bad because of the outcome (i.e. the government owing to pay landowners if it wanted, and was entitled to assert eminent domain over private property)and because there was a public interest use of the property (not owned by the government) which it had placed on private property. This demonstrates her unfitness to serve as the function of the Court is to apply existing law as established by precedent and resolve new issues which have not been addressed. There is no argument which would allow the government to take this property without compensation in any legal precedent or authority, but that is what Soto Mayor asserts.

    Justices should only be appointed and confirmed who abide the fundamentals of the concepts of the Constitution. The progressive view of a Constitution which should be changed by popular view, or social evolution simply cannot be used if the nation is to continue in freedom and liberty for the individual.

  • Dante Salt Lake City, UT
    March 11, 2014 1:51 p.m.

    The federal government once owned the land, but deeded it away to private parties--the government created and deeded to the railroads permanent easements across the lands in return for installing tracks; homesteaders farmed the lands and the government issued them patents to the lands, subject to the railroad easements. When the railroads abandon their easements, the easement rights revert to the private owners of the land, not the federal government, which already conveyed away all their interest.

    Sotomayor mistakenly thinks that merely seizing the land without compensation and dedicating it to public rights-of-way can extinguish a private property interest. She needs to study up on the due process clause. If the public needs it, the public should pay for it.

    March 11, 2014 12:37 p.m.

    Just wait til they come to take your property and it may not be just for public use. But that's o.k, you'll love that bike trail through your back yard. You can ride on it to work! You could even use your new electric bike. But, if you get caught in an unexpected snow storm be sure you don't use wood for a fire to keep from freezing to death. Your Government is only here to help!

  • Red Smith American Fork, UT
    March 11, 2014 7:58 a.m.

    A Wyoming private property owner said, "NO. I own this land." Oddly, the US Supreme Court confirmed his position. 70% of Utah is government owned. 30% is private and controlled by government city, county, and state land use regulations.

    Salt Lake County has a similar issue as Wyoming. 20% of the local canyons like Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood Canyon are private property, but this fact is not well known, published on Forest Service, State Recreation, or signs at the mouth of canyons.

    Canyon lovers are ok with unlimited public development like trails, bike lanes, back country ski areas, camp sites, picnic areas, toilets, etc.

    Canyon lovers are against all private land owners from having cabins on land that's been in the family for 40 years.

    Public "officials" desire to use private property or another man’s money for “their” vision of the world.

    Long needed canyon improvements-

    1-Put up educational signs that 20% of canyon land is Private and post on public websites.

    2-Allow reasonable public and private uses. Don't regulate private property into public property with phony land protection regulations.

    3-Have an easy process to trade private property of of high use public lands area.

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    March 11, 2014 7:22 a.m.

    I find it odd that so many hate government, when government is the voice of the people.

    If you don't like how that voice is being used, then get involved and change it.

    Many of the people who hate government are the same ones who want to privatize every public good. The problem is that it's the private hands that are the ones dipping into Uncle Sam's pockets. How else do you explain the KL Pipeline? It's not about what's good for America. It's about what's good for the big political spenders.

  • Tumbleweed Centerville, UT
    March 10, 2014 10:16 p.m.

    Good, maybe a bankrupt federal government won't be so prone to infringe on our individual rights.

  • silo Sandy, UT
    March 10, 2014 2:58 p.m.

    "So, when is YOUR land NOT your land?"

    "The people won a round!"

    It's interesting the people who post comments in favor of this ruling seem to have no problem with 'the people' losing their land to a foreign corporation through eminent domain seizures.

    Private property owners defending rights over a trail system - "them's true conservative Americans"

    Private property owners defending rights over TransCanada's Keystone pipeline - "nothing but liberals"

    At least there's consistency in the hypocrisy

  • OlderGreg USA, CA
    March 10, 2014 1:43 p.m.

    That decision does *not* close down the trail system --- it reinforces the property rights and opens the door to proper imminent domain process/ payment.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    March 10, 2014 1:38 p.m.

    I'm not sure it's a 'win' for anyone. It's a decision. I don't believe the government held onto abandoned railway rights of way with some sort malicious intent to lord it over the citizenry. Historically, the government created the rights of way in the first place, and I'm not sure of what's contained in the 1875 law that is interpreted as showing they need to give up these parcels now. It must be well written to get an 8-1 decision. I wonder, if the right of way forms the boundary between two landowners, do they split it? And, does the liability for past use of the rights of way pass on to the landowners? Suppose there had been a chemical spill in the past from a rail car for example, which surfaces to contaminate groundwater in the future. I guess the other loss is the potential to ever use these corridors for a trail system of any kind; that will never be available again.

  • A Guy With A Brain Enid, OK
    March 10, 2014 1:07 p.m.

    Article quotes: "The justices ruled 8-1 that property owner Marvin Brandt remains the owner of a 200-foot-wide trail that crosses his 83-acre parcel in southern Wyoming's Medicine Bow National Forest. The trail once was the path of a railroad and is among thousands of miles of abandoned railroads that have been converted to recreational trails. ....... Justice Sonia Sotomayor said in dissent the court's decision "undermines the legality of thousands of miles of former rights of way that the public now enjoys as means of transportation and recreation."

    So, when is YOUR land NOT your land?

    Apparently when Sonia Sotomayor says it isn't.

    What a croc!

    I'm amazed that the other liberal judges voted against Sotomayor.

    Score one for the American citizen!

  • cavetroll SANDY, UT
    March 10, 2014 12:36 p.m.

    I'm fairly certain an easement of some sort will be in the works and negotiation concerning the trails.

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    March 10, 2014 12:25 p.m.

    The people won a round! We used to be a country where the people told the government what it could and could not do, now with very few exceptions, its the other way around! Great victory for people!

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    March 10, 2014 11:53 a.m.

    I think this is great.

    The government is always so heavy and high handed in deciding that individual rights don't matter--only what the government decides to take. I'm so glad the justices did what's right. I hope the government has to compensate thousands of owners and give their lands back. One small step in restoring individual rights.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    March 10, 2014 11:27 a.m.

    8-1 is hardly a partisan decision. Government hubris is held in check.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    March 10, 2014 10:51 a.m.

    This is a really bad decision by the court.