Hennepin County, Minnestota seized a condominium owned by Geraldine Tyler because of unpaid $15,000 property taxes. The County then sold the property for $40,000, and it kept that entire amount. Ms. Tyler sued the County, arguing that, by keeping the money exceeding the amount of the tax debt, the County violated the Takings Clause. The district court dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim, and the Eighth Circuit affirmed. Ms. Tyler then successfully petitioned for review in the Supreme Court.
In the Supreme Court, Public Citizen submitted an amicus brief in support of Ms. Tyler. The brief argued that the County’s seizure was a taking of the condominium for the public purpose of recouping taxes, and that the County violated the just compensation requirement of the Takings Clause by failing to provide just compensation. The brief also explained that permitting the government to take property to collect a tax debt without providing just compensation creates skewed incentives that disproportionately harm vulnerable people.
In May 2023, consistent with the argument in our brief, the Supreme Court held that Ms. Tyler had plausibly alleged that Hennepin County’s retention of the excess value of her home above her tax debt violated the Takings Clause.