Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hodel v. Irving case brief

Hodel v. Irving case brief summary

Indian Lands Act provided each Sioux Indian with an allotment held in trust be the US govt. Eventually, the lands were splintered into multiple undivided interests, with some parcels having 100’s of fractional owners. 1983 congress passed the Indian Land Consolidation Act providing that certain fractional interests could not be transferred by intestacy or devise but would escheat back to the tribe. No provision was made for compensation to the owners of the escheated interests.

ISSUE: Is the complete abolition of the rights of an owner to dispose of property rights, a taking without just compensation violating the 5th Amendment right against taking without just compensation?

HOLDING: YES – dealing with a person’s right to pass property and govt taking without just compensation.

REASONING: this amounted to a total abrogation of the owner’s rights to devise the property. There is no set formula for determining when “fairness” requires that economic injuries caused by public axn be compensated, the courts have examined the “taking” question by factual inquiries having several factors: Aetna v. US:

1. Economic impact of the regulation. >>> among the bundle of rights is fair market value in the right to transmit. The court felt there would be a substantial impact on the fair market value right. The court did not think that the govt could pick arbtrairly the amount sufficient for the right to transmit. For example, what it there were oil and gas on the property, the fair market value would be much higher than that given by the govt.

2. Interference with reasonable investment backed expectations. >>> doesn’t really matter so much here.

3. Character of the governmental action. >>> there was a total abrogation of the right to transmit property. The court felt that this went too far. Unfair taking and an unfair compensation. There abrogation of the right to pass property. There was an acknowledgement that the US govt did still have this authority to take and distribute. You will rarely see something like this unconstitutional. 

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