First Monday Update: A Look at the 2012-2013 Supreme Court Term

After last year’s blockbuster term, during which the Supreme Court decided the fate of the Affordable Care Act, the Court will dive back in today and is expected to hear cases dealing with affirmative action, the Voting Rights Act, and same sex marriage this term.

This week, the Court will hear argument in a case involving the Army Corps of Engineers raising an issue that could have a broad impact on the Corps’ activities in flood-prone areas like ours. The suit was brought by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission seeking compensation from the Corps under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment as a result of floods caused by the Corps’ actions that resulted in a loss of the state’s hardwood timber over six consecutive years. Arkansas was awarded $5.7 million dollars by the lower court. That judgment was reversed by the appellate court. Specifically, the question for the Supreme Court is whether government actions that impose recurring flood invasions must continue permanently to be a taking within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause and thus entitle the owner to compensation.  This ruling will undoubtedly have far-reaching implications on attempts to hold the Corps and other governmental agencies responsible for property damage.

For more on the upcoming Supreme Court term:  www.supremecourt.gov (the official Supreme Court site) or www.scotusblog.org (a comprehensive blog on all things Supreme Court).