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Property Rights

Institute for Justice Takes up Case where Federal Court Ruled Government Owes no Compensation to Innocent Property Owner Whose House was Destroyed By Police

The prominent libertarian public interest firm hopes to get the decision reversed, possibly by the Supreme Court.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

The Lech house after it was destroyed by police seeking to apprehend a suspected shoplifter (court exhibit).

The Institute for Justice, a prominent libertarian public interest firm, has taken up case of Lech v. City of Greenwood Village, the recent decision in which a federal appellate court ruled that the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment does not require the government to compensate an innocent property owner whose house was destroyed by police seeking to apprehend a suspected shoplifter. I analyzed the issues at stake in the case here. As I explained in that post, the ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has considerable backing from precedent, but is nonetheless seriously flawed. I also, in that post, address the pragmatic argument that we must deny compensation in such cases in order to avoid unduly burdening law enforcement operations.

Andrew Wimer of the Institute for Justice has a good discussion of the case in an article in Forbes, which also describes what IJ hopes to achieve:

Leo Lech's home was destroyed. The windows and doors were all blown out, glass strewn inside and outside. But it wasn't an act of God, it was an act of the local police department.

Mind you, no one in the household had committed a crime. Instead, a suspect on the run fled there randomly. He'd been chased by police for miles after stealing a shirt and two belts from a local Walmart.

With the suspect armed and ignoring police communications, the SWAT team of the Greenwood Village Police Department in Colorado started systematically taking out windows and doors using explosives and an armored vehicle. They fired tear gas canisters into the home….

The occupants of the home were Leo Lech's son, the son's girlfriend, and her 9-year old son, who now found themselves homeless. In apprehending a suspect wanted for a few dollars' worth of goods, the police did damage costing Lech $400,000. While insurance covered some of the home repairs, it didn't cover the full amount of the value of the home or personal possessions…. And just recently, a federal appeals court ruled that he couldn't be compensated for his loss under the Fifth Amendment's takings clause: "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation…."

Lech's loss in court is an outrageous story…, but Lech isn't alone. For decades, innocent property owners have struggled to receive compensation when law enforcement agencies damage their property. It is an uphill climb even in states like Colorado, where the constitution specifically says that government should pay when property is damaged….

The Institute for Justice is now taking up Lech's case and has asked the entire 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider the decision of the three-judge panel. Regardless of whether the appeals court reverses the decision, it is likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will be asked to consider whether the U.S. Constitution protects property owners. Leo Lech's house was destroyed and there was no compensation.

IJ has litigated (and often prevailed) in numerous other constitutional property rights cases, including a recent Supreme Court victory in Timbs v. Indiana, which ruled that the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment applies to state governments, and constrains civil asset forfeitures. Hopefully, their involvement will increase the likelihood of getting this decision reversed, though I fear it may be an uphill struggle. At the very least, IJ will ensure that the Lech family has topnotch pro bono representation.

NOTE: I have worked with the Institute for Justice on a variety of previous property rights cases, always on a pro bono basis. I do not have any involvement in this one, though it is possible I will write an amicus brief at some point (which would also be a pro bono project).

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82 responses to “Institute for Justice Takes up Case where Federal Court Ruled Government Owes no Compensation to Innocent Property Owner Whose House was Destroyed By Police

  1. “Strongly backed by precedent” and yet still “deeply flawed”…anyone else notice a problem here?

    1. It would be clearer if the link to Ilya’s previous article on the case worked.

      I don’t know how to add a link in my comment.
      https://reason.com/2019/10/31/federal-court-rules-there-is-no-taking-if-the-police-destroy-an-innocent-persons-house-during-a-law-enforcement-operation/

      1. I read it then, just as I read this article now. My problem with his analysis, and what is always the problem with Somin, is that he has a particular end state he wants to get to, and uses he reason to get there, as evidenced by his response to this topic.

        Now, you can think that this homeowner got screwed, and the police acted wrongly, and that if the municipality had offered more incentives outside of the court system this wouldn’t have been a case, and that precedent should be changed…all simultaneously. But it is a bit of stretch in this case to say that the decision was deeply flawed because Somin doesn’t like the outcome. The flaw, in his mind, is the outcome.

        1. The original article takes issue with the doctrine:

          “But it is nonetheless based on a deeply flawed doctrine.”

          It is somewhat analogous to the qualified immunity doctrine that holds government officials can’t be held responsible for their actions.

          The whole idea of exempting government for responsibility for it’s actions leads to all sorts of bad outcomes.

          1. Okay, fair enough. Thanks.

        2. Weren’t there some threads on interpretation, centered on the notion of “mischief.” I read the “mischief” referred to as a reference to the outcomes the laws were intended to prevent. I thought that made a certain interpretive sense. I take it you disagree?

  2. Well if civil forfeiture is still considered legal use of police authority I don’t see how this would be ruled as any different.

    There are a lot of good law enforcement officers out there who pursued their careers for all the right reasons. Everyone knows one or more. But that has caused us to trust the police too much.

    1. I dispute your claim of there being “a lot of good law enforcement officers out there”. If even 10% of police were good enough to turn in the bad cops in spite of the thin blue line, the bad cops would be rooted out in short order. The fact that we still have tons of bad cops shows the so-called good cops aren’t doing their job; they are not in fact good cops.

      1. I would agree with you, but there is very much a lot of grey areas in law enforcement. And I’m not talking movie stuff, but real life. The black and white stuff does tend to get people outed.

        1. It is telling that bad cops are almost always outed months or years later, very seldom on the spot. Here the bad cop was outed by a random check. Any cop this perverted must have been known to his comrades, yet they said nothing, did nothing.

          1. Just what does it tell you? It tells me incentives have to be stronger to out bad cops rather than to cover for them, and therein lies the difficulty, both in design and execution of such incentives. And disagree with the regularity with which you say such things occur.

      2. There are 800,000 police in the US.
        Every year, they make 15 million arrests, respond to 250 million 911 calls, and are involved with about 1 BILLION police-citizen interactions.

        If even 10% of police were actually ‘bad cops’, we wouldn’t be seeing occasional cases of abuse, rare enough to make national news… we’d be seeing millions of cases, with the national and local news flooded with those stories.

        There certainly are bad cops, and entire bad departments, out there. But I think you vastly over-estimate their numbers.

        1. You misread the original comment. It did not say “If even 10% of police were actually ‘bad cops’…,” it said “If even 10% of police were good enough to turn in the bad cops…”

          Entirely different, and valid even if only .001% of police are bad cops. The problem is not just a ‘few bad apples’ it’s the overall culture of acceptance of bad apples.

  3. If the police had simply done nothing and the owner had died, there would be no liability, right?

    Since the purpose of liability is to induce behavior, maybe the right behavior for police, the behavior the law of liability should induce, is to do nothing. Perhaps

    Brave Monty Python’s Brave Sir Robin is the model for how a police officer should behave.

    1. How would the owner have died if the police hadn’t done anything? He wasn’t home at the time.

      To be clear, the accounts in reason typically leave out important details, like the “shoplifter” firing on police before the police got medieval on him.

      And the local government did pay his insurance deductible and rent for housing until he could rebuild.

      The reason he was out so much money anyway, was that he’d lowballed the value of his property in order to save on his insurance and property tax payments. But that doesn’t make a good story.

      1. Perhaps, but if the benefits of capturing the criminal inure to the benefit of society, society should foot the bill for the damages.

        1. Sure, I agree. Ask your state congressman to pass a law for that policy.

          1. We shouldn’t need to. The 5th Amendment already covers this.

            1. “Should” is the correct word. It implies that while you’re stating your vision of an ideal world, you are also acknowledging that we are not in that ideal world.

              So true. We shouldn’t need to. But we do need to.

      2. 1. The criminal is actually liable for the resulting actions. The actions occurred due to the criminal behavior.

        2. “Cause $400K in damage, and call it an appropriate escalation of force for around $50 in goods.”

        It’s not about the cost of goods stolen, but the danger and risk. The suspect was actively firing at the police officers, putting them in mortal danger. The cost of a dead police officer would far exceed $400K (not to mention the non-fiscal human cost)

        1. As a matter of policy you might want reimbursement for damage, but that should be done through legislation, not by discovering a new property of an old concept just because you can outrage button it.

          1. We have that legislation.

            It’s called the Takings Clause, so that when the public body seizes an individuals property for the benefit of the whole (through their employee, the police) the entire public body pays for it precisely so that no one individual must bear the entire cost of a public benefit.

            We even fought a war over things like this.

            1. It wasn’t really “taken” though, but destroyed in the course of a military-police action.

        2. The suspect was actively firing at the police officers […]

          For the nineteen hours he was in there?

          1. No, just when the police actively tried to apprehend him.

            1. You’re glossing over the timeline here.

              At the beginning they chased him and that’s when he entered the house.

              Nineteen hours later they stormed the house as if they were going after Al Qaeda.

              Unless they were in “mortal danger” for those nineteen hours, the storming was quite obviously not in response to the “mortal danger”. It was a deliberate choice, not a reaction.

      3. Why is it OK to stick the insurance company for the loss?

        I know no one like insurance companies, but that’s not a good enough reason.

        1. I’m hoping because that would make the homeowner whole, and then the insurance company would get their losses from the State.

          The same way your car insurer will pay for your own repairs even when someone else is liable, and they’ll collect it from them so that you are made whole immediately.

          Otherwise this has the exact same moral problems on who bears the cost, and the same perverse incentives problem if the state doesn’t pay for what it breaks.

          1. I’m hoping because that would make the homeowner whole, and then the insurance company would get their losses from the State.

            Your hope is probably vain.

        2. Because that’s the risk that’s being insured against?

          1. I find the whole insurance business odd. I don’t think my policy includes coverage for “Police destroy your house” among the various perils covered.

            Do others?

            And if they do, why should they? Why should a homeowner have to pay a premium to have that coverage when the government ought to reimburse for damages?

            You can twist any way you want, but you are still requiring the homeowner to bear the cost, either directly or through his insurance premium.

            1. It does actually cover that

        3. I don’t think it’s OK to stick the insurance company with the loss. I’m explaining how it came about that this guy ended up with the short end of the stick.

          Reason has developed an unfortunate tendency, when discussing these sorts of cases, to leave out important details to sell the narrative. I don’t like that. If the narrative is right, you shouldn’t have to elide inconvenient details to sell it.

          1. My guess is they don’t want to appear that they’re “blaming the victim.” That fact, while it gives more context to the situation, is entirely irrelevant from this legal/philosophical discussion.

            1. Well, no, it’s the proximate cause of his being under compensated. If he’d had the correct valuation on his house, he’d have been made whole.

              Now, maybe they should have compensated him for the true value. But then what do they do next? Bill him for back property taxes?

              1. Right, but the legal issue is not his being under-compensated, but by the government not paying for damages it causes. Whether the payment is to the under-compensated individual or an insurance company is irrelevant normatively.

    2. “If the police had simply done nothing and the owner had died, there would be no liability, right?”

      Your argument is with the takings clause itself.

      “If the government builds a road on some dude’s property, they are liable to the owner. But if they don’t build a road and nobody can get from point A to point B, no liability. So obviously if we make the government pay just compensation when they build roads, we won’t have roads.”

      1. There are real questions when the “takings” clause applies, especially during due to extenuating circumstances. One example might be the “Flight 93” case.

        Due to the actions of the passengers, the plane crashed, costing the airlines millions. Can the airline sue the passengers estate to reclaim that? If there was a flight marshal on the flight and his actions resulted in the same outcome, could the government be sued for the cost of the aircraft?

        Why or why not?

        1. Well, given all of the circumstances, the plane was doomed when it was hijacked, and the passengers’ actions only changed the means of its destruction. The only one damaged by their actions was the owner of the field in Shanksville where it crashed.

          1. That’s not absolutely clear. It “might” have been doomed. It might have been convinced to land safely. Just like the criminal in the house might have burned the entire thing to the ground if he wasn’t apprehended.

            1. Exactly. The destruction is lain at the feet of the criminal, regardless of whether he burned it down or the police wrecked it to get him.

              There is plenty of reason to ask your local legislators to create a law to reimburse in a case like this, but little philosophical reason to strain and twist it into being a taking. It isn’t. It is an unfortunate thing, but that isn’t a taking.

              1. Does anyone want the police to think, ya know, our budget is tight this year and we can’t afford a $400,000 house, so forget it.

                Next step in this path is to consider *that* a taking, too, because police decided to “store” the criminal there rather than risk damaging the house.

                1. Does anyone want the police to think, ya know, our budget is tight this year and we can’t afford a $400,000 house, so forget it.

                  Sometimes, yeah.

                  Not all crimes are created equal. Not all crimes deserve capital punishment. Not all crimes are worth destroying a building over.

                  And it’s not like their only options were “let the guy go” and “destroy a house”. They had other options. Destroying the house was a choice they made.

            2. True, we can’t say with 100% certainty what would have happened, but given what had happened with the other three planes (known to at least some of the passengers), I think there is a preponderance of the evidence.

        2. The plane did not crash due to the actions of the passengers, it crashed due to the actions of a criminal terrorist.

          Attempting to place responsibility on the passengers is victim blaming. You might as well say the crash was the responsibility of the pilots for opening the cockpit door, or of Boeing for having made the plane in the first place.

          If there had been an air marshal on the plane, and his resistance had caused the terrorist pilot to decide to suicide, I would say that NO, the government was not responsible.

          In this case, though, the government destroyed the house, not the criminal. Positive actions were taken with deliberate, predictable (in fact, desired) results that effected the destruction of the home.

        3. “Due to the actions of the passengers, the plane crashed, costing the airlines millions. Can the airline sue the passengers estate to reclaim that?”

          The passengers aren’t subject to the takings clause, and in any event, the reason you chose the “flight 93” example is because the asymmetric nature of the parties invokes a moral intuition in the direction you want to take the argument. If the parties were similar situated (say the passengers were a bunch of big corporations), sure.

          But in this case the parties are asymmetry goes the other way, so why create an incentive for the government to shit on some homeowner?

        4. “Due to the actions of the passengers”

          Which action, the boarding of the plane, or the temerity to be present when the plane was violently commandeered by suicidal religious fanatics?

          Only lawyers can make arguments that fundamentally stupid.

  4. Paragraph 8 of the Massachusetts Body of Liberties of 1641 reads:

    “No mans Cattel or goods of what kinde soever shall be pressed or taken for any publique use or service, unlesse it be by warrant grounded upon some act of the generall Court, nor without such reasonable prices and hire as the ordinarie rates of the Countrie do afford. And if his Cattle or goods shall perish or suffer damage in such service, the owner shall be suffitiently recompenced.”

    It seems that in 1641 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony the homeowner would have a claim against the town or the colony under the “use or service” language of the paragraph.

    1. IANAL, but your quoted clause pertains to warrants. Would anyone expect a warrant in a case like this, where the cops were pursuing an armed suspect who was shooting at them?

      1. The article says the felon was armed, not that he was shooting at the LEO in pursuit or shooting out of the home.

        Perhaps hot pursuit is the equivalent of a warrant. But in any case the homeowner lost his property and under colonial law he would have been able to recover from the state.

        1. He was also holed up for 19 hours before the police assaulted the place in force.

          Bottom line is that the police decided to treat a shoplifter like a terrorist, over-reacted to an insane degree, and then bragged about how awesome they were for destroying this house to grab a shoplifter.

          While this guy’s insurance shenanigans give me pause, the police are obviously bad actors here, and I don’t think they should be rewarded for this kind of reckless disregard.

          1. If police acted improperly, sure, pay up just as any other situation. I don’t know, but I think the assumption here is it was all proper behavior (stretched perhaps.)

          2. What’s your complaint here, that they didn’t immediately storm the house while under fire from inside? They gave him plenty of time to surrender before getting medieval on him.

            Now, maybe they should have just starved him out, but maybe the home owner had a fully stocked fridge and it would have taken a month, and in the mean while the neighborhood is cordoned off.

            I tend to think there are better solutions to this, like lobbing a tear gas grenade in through the window. But on the margin, I don’t think they were grossly unreasonable.

            And once he fired on them, it’s just flat out dishonest to keep describing him as a “shoplifter”. At that point he’s a violent felon.

            1. What’s your complaint here […]

              Disproportionate response and militarization of police.

    2. It seems that in 1641 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony the homeowner would have a claim against the town or the colony under the “use or service” language of the paragraph.

      Maybe not. When something is “taken for any publique use or service” it means that the property is transferred to a public agency to be enjoyed by it as its own. The same language is used in the fifth amendment: “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” However, with takings under the police power the property is not transferred to the public but the owner’s use of it is curtailed for the public good. The general rule has been described this way: “…while police power is usually exerted merely to regulate the use and enjoyment of property of the owner, or if he is deprived outright it is not taken for public use but rather destroyed in order to promote the general welfare of the public and in neither case is the owner entitled to compensation.” Another example is a zoning ordinance which, for the public good, drastically reduces the value of one’s property.

  5. I wonder how people would react if this happened to a more mainstream journalist publication. If the publisher of say, the NYT were found in contempt, could he be forced to publish an editorial praising the judiciary, banned from publishing any negative letters regarding the op-ed, etc?

    This is pretty scary.

    1. This is not the article you are looking for.

  6. Gosh, I hope if the SC decides to take up the case, the city doesn’t suddenly try to settle and make it moot.

  7. Although I GREATLY sympathize with the homeowner, the police didn’t necessarily do anything wrong. So why should the taxpayers be punished? It should be on the criminal to pay for the damages.

    Think about the precedent you are setting. In wartime, will our forces have to pay to repair everyone’s home that was damaged in the course of an enemy attacking us? If you say “wartime is different”, then why should that be any different?

    1. > It should be on the criminal to pay for the damages.

      It was the criminal that caused the $400K in damages? The criminal caused that $400K in damage. The criminal was the one that used explosives? That shot the tear gas?

      > then why should that be any different?

      The police are **NOT** a military force no matter how much they want to be. They are civil servants that get away with much more than they should thanks to bad court decisions.

      Ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse for breaking the law… unless you’re a cop charged with enforcing that law.

      Cause the death of an innocent suspect, using a “holding” maneuver that has been banned? Qualified Immunity, maybe a write up and paid time off.

      Cause $400K in damage, and call it an appropriate escalation of force for around $50 in goods.

      It’s all good though right? The cops *needed* to destroy the home to make sure that criminal didn’t get away with his goods. They didn’t do anything wrong when they decided they needed to blow up the home for a shirt and belts. There was nothing that was going to happen to the cops anyway right?

      1. 1. The criminal is actually liable for the resulting actions. The actions occurred due to the criminal behavior.

        2. “Cause $400K in damage, and call it an appropriate escalation of force for around $50 in goods.”

        It’s not about the cost of goods stolen, but the danger and risk. The suspect was actively firing at the police officers, putting them in mortal danger. The cost of a dead police officer would far exceed $400K (not to mention the non-fiscal human cost)

        1. So because the police officer doesn’t want to bear the costs of an encounter that he volunteered for and received monetary compensation to take he can instead push that cost onto an individual taxpayer who neither volunteered nor received compensation?

          1. Yes. If you have an issue with that, ask your state legislator to create a law, rather than invent a new philosophy to strain the takings clause.

            1. Yeah, I’m sure a state legislator will be willing to pass such a law and have less money to pay for pork projects and union employee benefits.

        2. The suspect was in the house for 19 hours before the police destroyed it. I seriously doubt that the suspect was in possession of enough ammo to last 19 hours. I would not be surprised to find out that he didn’t fire on the cops until after they started storming the house.

          1. Me neither. How much food was in the house? What happens if you cut off utilities and water?

            1. He sets the house on fire to cover his escape?

          2. You can read the story, and figure out he fired on the cops before they were “storming the house”

            More information ahead of time is always better than just guessing the worst case scenario instead.

            1. “You can read the story, and figure out he fired on the cops before they were “storming the house””

              The cops say he fired on them before they stormed the house. Cops lie.

    2. If you say “wartime is different”, then why should that be any different?

      You mean besides that we do war to other people, not our own citizens?

      1. Wartime IS different. Cops get qualified immunity for what would get life in Leavanworth if you did it on the battlefield.

    3. So you’re thinking that a person who was so desperate he needed to take the risks involved with stealing a shirt and two belts from Walmart, then facing a felony conviction for evading arrest and causing damage, should be in a position to pay $400,000 for the trouble he caused?
      Good luck with that.

      1. “So you’re thinking that a person who was so desperate he needed to take the risks involved with stealing a shirt and two belts from Walmart”

        Setting aside that I don’t automatically assume that thieves are poor, (For some people it’s just a lifestyle choice.) you can owe money even if you’re in no position to pay it.

  8. OH, it was a shirt and TWO belts! That is totally worth destroying the home of an innocent. I’d wager the current law would better protect the property if it had belonged to the shoplifter since it would likely qualify as a violation of both the 5th and 8th Amendments. I’d also argue that it violates the 9th and possibly the 10th but since they’ve been pissed on for so long they are meaningless.

  9. I’m at a loss to come to terms with this. “A federal appeals court ruled that he couldn’t be compensated for his loss under the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause: ‘nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation….'” So the clause says that Lech’s private property couldn’t be taken in the interest of the public without compensating him…and the court somehow concluded that it meant exactly the opposite—that his property *could* be taken in the interest of the public without compensating him? What kind of bizarro, inverted world are we living in? One, apparently, where ability to process simple logic is not a requirement for federal judges.
    Making things even more bizarre is the fact that the Colorado Constitution specifically says that the government should pay when property is damaged. How do things like this happen?
    Surely this is a case of mis-reporting. It has to be.

    1. He WAS compensated. The local government gave him his insurance deductible and rent for an apartment until his house was livable again. Now, you can argue that the insurance company shouldn’t be on the hook for any of that, and the insurance company probably would go after the local government after paying out to the home owner. And you can argue that the compensation didn’t cover the psychic costs of having your stuff trashed, and life disrupted, and you’d be right about that.

      But the court case was because he was compensated for what he’d been claiming the property was worth, and then went to court to get compensated for what it was actually worth, because he’d been understating the value of his house to save on property taxes and insurance, so the insurance company didn’t pay out enough to replace his stuff.

      And it’s shameful of Reason to omit that context, which is central to the whole case.

  10. The idea that the homeowner should be compensated isn’t based on the idea that the police did something wrong. The idea is based on the idea that everyone should share in the cost of this law enforcement operation by paying taxes, and the whole cost should not fall on some random unlucky person.

    I would distinguish this case from a natural disaster, like a flood where the government might redirect the waters, on the basis that there is an asymmetry in those cases where we don’t want to risk tipping the scale in one direction or the other. In a case like this, however, by destroying one house, the government did not save a different house in an overall effort to minimize property damage. Therefore, I believe it ought to compensate the homeowner so that taxpayers share in the burden of this costly law enforcement operation rather than have the whole cost fall on one unlucky individual. A big part of the policy logic here is the idea that people can obtain flood insurance (or choose not to build in flood zones).

    I agree with Somin about what the policy should be. But, I am less sure that the policy ought to be imposed as a matter of constitutional law. This might not be the sort of taking envisioned by the takings clause. On the other hand, it does seem to be within the spirit of the law in significant respects. One individual should not be expected to contribute disproportionately to the government’s finances simply because they randomly own property X rather than property Y.

    1. “The idea that the homeowner should be compensated isn’t based on the idea that the police did something wrong. The idea is based on the idea that everyone should share in the cost of this law enforcement operation by paying taxes, and the whole cost should not fall on some random unlucky person.”

      Correct. If government offered some kind of FEMA-like way to handle such claims, then there would be no need to go to court alleging wrongdoing. Actually, it would probably be simpler and cheaper for all parties if governments simply bought insurance. Let the insurance companies handle the claims.

    2. In a case like this, however, by destroying one house, the government did not save a different house in an overall effort to minimize property damage.

      They would probably answer that the government took this action while attempting to enforce the state’s criminal laws and to protect the public from crime. How is protecting the public from floods different? What is the principle that covers one but not the other?

  11. The distinction here is between a taking pursuant to eminent domain and a taking pursuant to the police power. If it is true that a distinction was recognized at the time of the enactment of the fifth and fourteenth amendment (and going back under English law), and if it was understood that takings pursuant to the police power were not entitled to compensation under the constitution, then under what theory do the courts have the authority to change that rule? Doesn’t it require legislation to distinguish between different types of police power, some of which will retain the existing rule? Otherwise doesn’t the judiciary have to issue that legislation?

    As Justice Thomas said in Bennis v. Michigan “This case is ultimately a reminder that the Federal Constitution does not prohibit everything that is intensely undesirable.”

  12. The author’s description of the events leading up to the siege is so incorrect it must be deliberate dishonesty. Yes, the suspect shoplifted, but when a police officer tried to arrest him, Seacat tried to run over the officer with car and fled. Seacat later abandoned the car. A witness who saw him running told police – accurately – that Seacat was armed with a handgun. Seacat then forced his way into a house occupied by a 9 year old child. There were several firearms and ammunition in the house. At one point, Seacat tried to open the garage door and presumably flee in a car inside. Police blocked the garage door, and Seacat shot blindly through the door at cops. When police tried to enter the home, Seacat shot at them. This is not exactly the same as Seacat merely shoplifted a few dollars worth of merchandise. It’s separate issue about who pays for the damage, but surely Somin can make his point while accurately describing what actually happened.

  13. This is wrong-headed from the jump.

    “I also, in that post, address the pragmatic argument that we must deny compensation in such cases in order to avoid unduly burdening law enforcement operations.”

    This is the kind of bullshit thinking that gets an innocent persons home destroyed because a shop lifter broke in.

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