The Administration strongly opposes S. 2271 because it would shift
authority over local land use issues away from local communities and State
courts to Federal courts. The bill would subject local communities to the
threat of premature, expensive Federal court litigation that would favor
wealthy developers over neighboring property owners and the community at
large. The President will veto S. 2271 or any similar legislation.
S. 2271 would harm neighboring property owners, weaken local public health
and environmental protections, and diminish the quality of life by
undermining local land use planning. Through radical changes to the
existing legal doctrine of ripeness, the bill would give developers
inappropriate leverage in their dealings with local officials by making it
easier to sue local communities far earlier in the land use planning
process. S. 2271 also purports to allow takings claimants to circumvent
State courts altogether.
The bill would violate constitutional limits on congressional power if
read, as its supporters intend, to allow for a ruling that an uncompensated
taking has occurred even where the claimant fails to pursue available State
compensation remedies. The bill also would prohibit Federal courts from
"abstaining" or deferring to State courts on certain delicate issues of
State law. It would lead to poorly informed decisions by allowing
claimants to bring claims in Federal courts without an adequate factual
record, the very claims that the courts themselves have said are unripe for
S. 2271 would empower the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to invalidate
Federal statutes and rules and grant other injunctive relief in a broad
category of cases. This grant of authority to a non-Article III court
raises a host of serious constitutional and policy concerns.
The bill provides that, by including a property rights claim, any litigant
against the United States could ensure that the entire case would be
reviewed on appeal by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, an
approach that would promote inappropriate forum-shopping. This would
dramatically increase the legal influence of the Federal Circuit at the
expense of other circuits, thereby disrupting settled interpretations of
important areas of the law.
S. 2271 also could override the "preclusive review" provisions found in
many Federal statutes, including major environmental laws. These
provisions allow for the swift and orderly resolution of challenges to
Federal actions. S. 2271 would deprive affected businesses and the public
of the regulatory stability needed to plan their actions.