Regulatory Takings: Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon

A couple of years ago, I was working on a series about regulatory takings cases… Then I started my job at Southeast, and my time was taken up with other work. I’m back at it, though, and so I’ll be revisiting a few of the old posts as I work on my some new ones. Happily, this is coinciding with lecturing on these topics in my undergraduate constitutional law class — always a favorite time of my semester! So, from 2014:

Disasters, Property, and Politics

Why, precisely, did I have so much trouble with takings cases, particularly regulatory takings all those years ago? Why do I still heave a heavy sigh whenever I am faced with a new one? Well, back in the 1980s, when property movements were really getting their litigative feet under them, Carol Rose of Yale Law School wrote a wonderful essay titled, “Mahon Reconstructed: Why the Takings Issue is Still a Muddle.” (52 S. Cal. L. rev. 561, 1983-1984). Indeed, after I read this essay I ended up reading a lot of Professor Rose’s work. This essay, and one of her books in particular, Property and Persuasion: Essays on the History, Theory, and Rhetoric of Ownership shaped my thinking about takings quite a lot (Westview Press, 1994 — it’s out of print now, but if you can find a used copy, I recommend it!).

Since I am not…

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Reading Around the Internet: January 12, 2016

I guess having a cold makes me more likely to blog… It certainly puts me in front of the computer a whole lot more…

With apologies to those of you who follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook who likely already saw this, I wanted to post this for my DPP readers, too. I have been reading about the earthquake that happened in Nepal in April of 2015, and bumped into an article on-line in the Daily Mail titled “Deadly ‘kink’ in the fault line beneath Nepal causes the Himalayas to GROW but also threatens to unleash another earthquake.  It’s a fascinating discussion of the geology of the Himalaya mountains, and what caused the big earthquake in April. Anyone interested in earthquake science (or anyone who lives on a fault line) should find it an interesting read.

Also very importantly for disaster recovery purposes, the geologists studying the 2015 Gorkha earthquake are strongly suggesting that there may be another strong earthquake in the next few years. This is because only part of the pressure on the fault line was released in the earthquake — which means another section may yet move. If true, then those rebuilding in the area should consider the possibility of another strong earthquake sooner rather than later. Some organizations have, in fact, been working to help the Nepalese rebuild and develop more quake-resistant houses.

The summary of the research can be found at the link above (just click the title of the article). There’s graphics and a video or two. For the more scientifically minded, the research was published in Nature Geoscience. There’s some technical language here, but I applaud the authors for, mostly, explaining their work in language that I could understand. Here’s a link to that article (click here), which appears to be ungated thanks to the nature.come sharing initiative. In case the link doesn’t work, the full citation is:

Elliott, J.R., R. Jolivet, P.J. Gonzalez, J.-P. Avouac, J. Hollingsworth, M.P. Searle, and V.L. Stevens. “Himalayan megathrust geometry and relation to topography revealed by the Gurkha earthquake.” Natural Geoscience, advance on-line publication,

In the meantime, I do want to point out, since many of my readers have suffered through natural disasters, that the situation in Nepal has been sad and difficult.  Right now, however, relief efforts are also being complicated by winter weather. This is a major humanitarian crisis that has received some attention, but not nearly enough.