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Document Type

Case Comment

Abstract

The Court’s opinion in Koontz has elicited many negative reactions in academia, most of which focus on the expansion of Nollan and Dolan to monetary exactions. Criticisms run the gamut: some scholars argue that the Court was wrong to ignore the environmental impact of land developments, while others suggest the Court gave the same consideration too much credence. These criticisms are likely premature and necessarily speculative, since the Court decided the case less than two years ago.

Scholars have scrutinized this case’s factual and procedural history less closely, and those elements may justify the Court’s holding. Two often-overlooked facts are particularly important. First, the government’s demand was unusually exploitative—the District offered no sufficient justification for the exaction, and it was large in comparison to the development’s value. Second, on remand, the Florida courts read the statute under which Koontz brought his claim to allow for monetary damages, despite the plain language of the statute and the dissent’s assertion that it could not be read to authorize the damages. These two facts, respectively, suggest that the Court’s fear of evading Nollan and Dolan was reasonable, and that the Court’s decision to remand the case to Florida courts was prudent. Thus, this Comment will argue that the behind-the-scenes reality of the conflict in Koontz justifies the Court’s decision.

This Comment proceeds on the premise that the facts of particular cases should inform the way courts shape constitutional law. That proposition is up for debate, but it is not one this Comment addresses. Even the most skeptical of readers will find value in knowing more about the real-world impact of Supreme Court jurisprudence.

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