George Will was mistaken
The Constitution’s takings clause states “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” In last Sunday’s column, George Will urged the Supreme Court to approve a request by wealthy casinos to review an “Illinois case and reject the preposterous idea that money is not property within” this clause’s scope.
But as conservative National Review Online columnist Matthew J. Frank explains, Will is wrong (“Taking Stock of the Takings Clause”). “‘[M]oney is not property’ where the takings clause is concerned [because the] clause makes no sense otherwise.” If a court found that a tax was for a “public use” so “the taking was valid,” there must be compensation, meaning “the tax money, to the last penny, must be returned ... every valid tax would be canceled out as a taking.”
George Will does not like this Illinois levy because it benefits horse racing. He cannot, however, rewrite the Constitution to create takings claims against a requirement that the casinos can seek to change though the legislature.
X The writer is senior judicial counsel for Earthjustice, a nonprofit public interest law firm that concentrates on environmental issues.