Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council

Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council

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Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council

 

Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council: Background of the Case

The case of Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, began in 1986 when David Lucas purchased two residential lots on the Isle of Palms, a South Carolina island. Mr. Lucas intended construct single-family homes on the land’s adjacent lots. In 1988, the South Carolina state legislature passed a law which barred Mr. Lucas from erecting permanent structures on his land. This law aimed to protect the destruction and erosion of barrier islands. In response to the enactment of this law, Lucas sued and procured a large monetary settlement. The state appealed this local ruling.

 

Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council: The Question

The case of Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council asked the question of whether or not the construction ban depriving Lucas of total use of his purchased property amounted to a “taking”, which would call for “just compensation” under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

 

Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council: The Decision

In a 6 to 2 decision, the United States Supreme Court in Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council relied on the lower court’s finding that Mr. Lucas’s lots had been rendered meaningless or valueless by the state’s law. So, in essence, the United States Supreme Court in Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council ruled that yes, the state law depriving Lucas of all economically viable use of his land amounted to a “taking” and called for “just compensation” under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

The Supreme Court of the United States in Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council stated that a legitimate suffering occurs when the owner of real property has been asked to sacrifice all economically beneficial uses in the name of the common good.

The dissenting opinions in Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council stated that the determination of no value must be evaluated with reference to the owner’s investment-backed expectations. Moreover, the dissenting opinion stated that the case should have been dismissed, as the decision of the lower courts was highly questionable based on the facts presented. Regardless of these opinions, the state of South Carolina in Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council was required to pay Lucas $850,000 in compensation for the two lots. The State of South Carolina proceeded to sell the lots to private parties for future development. Homes currently sit on both lots. 

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