Is Chief Justice Roberts the Supreme Court's "Property Guy"?

The Chief has written many of the Court's property cases over the past decade.


Robert Thomas made a thorough observation on his Inverse Condemnation blog: Chief Justice Roberts is the Supreme Court's "property guy":

The biggest point we read between the lines of Chief Justice Roberts' opinion was this: the Chief is solidly the "property guy" on the Court. In addition to Cedar Point, how many of the Court's property or property-related opinions has he authored? KnickPenn East. Horne IIMurr dissentWinterThis recent per curiam sure reads a lot like he wrote it, too. [Pakdel v. City & County of San Francisco]. Those opinions he didn't author he played a big part in: the fifth vote in Koontzpresumably employing his role as Chief to organize unanimous or nearly unanimous decisions in Arkansas GameHorne IBrandtHawkes, and Sackett; and joining in very pro-property rights pluralities when there wasn't a majority. (Did we miss any?)

I can't think of any others. Roberts really, really has a strong preference for property rights. True enough, Roberts argued Tahoe-Sierra on behalf of the federal government. But lawyers don't always agree with their causes.

NEXT: California v. Texas on Remand

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  1. The unfortunate “property rights” makes it all too easy for the willing to ignore that it is really the natural human right to own the fruits of your labor, ie, “property”.

    1. Words are very often omitted when understood in context. I don’t see that it would help much if it were expanded to “people’s property rights” or “people’s intellectual property” every time. At a certain point inserting words that are already understood gets in the way of understanding. Even “corporate rights” are really rights of the people ultimately behind the corporation (even if layers of ownership have to be unwound to find out who those people are).

      1. One of the common anti-capitalist chants is “Human rights, not property rights”.

    2. Unless that property is social media platforms, amirite?

  2. I just wish he’d cleanup the law by articulating a straightforward takings standard. Instead he makes these incremental movements via narrow rulings. When do we get rid of the parcel-as-a-whole standard that inexplicably applies to “regulatory” interferences but not “physical” invasions? Come on already.

  3. Roberts seems far more loyal to the Court as an institution than to the Constitution. I can imagine worse possibilities, but not many.

    1. “I can imagine worse possibilities, but not many.”

      Alito . . . Rehnquist . . . Thomas . . . Barrett . . . Kavanaugh . . . McReynolds . . . Scalia . . . Sutherland . . . Roberts (the first) . . . Van Deveter . . . Gorsuch . . . how many would constitute “many?”

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