Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has secured a unanimous 9-0 win at the U.S. Supreme Court in a case protecting the ability of Texas to handle compensation disputes under State law for any allegedly taken property. 

A number of citizens sued seeking compensation under the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution after severe rain caused flooding in the Houston area in 2017 and 2019. According to these plaintiffs, the barrier between two sides of the highway served as a type of dam, preserving a flood-evacuation route but resulting in flooding of their property. Although Texas has long allowed citizens to bring such claims under state law, these plaintiffs insisted on bringing their claim directly under the U.S. Constitution. Because Congress has never authorized such litigation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected their claims. 

Long committed to the importance of property rights, Texas argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that the landowners should be permitted to seek relief so long as they do so under Texas law. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously agreed with Texas. The Court also specifically rejected the plaintiffs’ mistaken interpretation of existing caselaw that they claimed would allow them to sue directly under federal law.

The U.S. Supreme Court said: “Texas state law provides a cause of action by which property owners may seek just compensation against the State. As Texas explained at oral argument, its state-law inverse-condemnation cause of action provides a vehicle for takings claims based on both the Texas Constitution and the Takings Clause.… And, although Texas asserted that proceeding under the state-law cause of action would require an amendment to the complaint, it also assured the Court that it would not oppose any attempt by DeVillier and the other petitioners to seek one.”

“For as long as Texas has been Texas, it has recognized that property rights are crucial to a free society. Under the U.S. Constitution, such claims should be pursued under state law unless Congress has said otherwise. I’m pleased the Supreme Court agreed with us unanimously that citizens should sue under Texas law,” said Attorney General Paxton.

To read the opinion, click here.