Supreme Court Unanimously Rules to Uphold Landowner Rights

Washington, DC…A unanimous decision on December 4th (8-0, with one recusal) by the U.S. Supreme Court, was greeted with praise by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Legal Center. Today’s decision in Arkansas Game & Fish Commission v. United States will help protect private landowners from enduring “temporary takings” that cause property damage without compensation by the government.

“This decision is a victory for small-business owners—farmers and ranchers especially—whose property is essential to their livelihood and the success of their business,” said Karen Harned, executive director of the NFIB Small Business Legal Center. “Temporary government invasions can be costly if left uncompensated. Today’s Supreme Court ruling will help ensure that lower courts give greater consideration to the protection of private property owners.”

Historically, property owners face significant legal hurdles when seeking compensation for property damage caused by short-term government policies and projects. There are often devastating impacts that property or small-business owners endure due to a temporary physical invasion by the government that may result in destruction of/to a home, place of business or other valuable resources.

In this case, the Army Corps of Engineers deviated from longstanding policies that had governed the volume and length of water-releases from Clearwater Dam in southeast Missouri. These changes resulted in eight years of flooding, which ultimately destroyed numerous trees on downstream private property. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals held that downstream property owners could not receive compensation for these flood damages, because the flooding was only temporary.

NFIB was joined by a coalition of business groups in filing an amicus brief in this case.


NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C. and all 50 state capitals. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small and independent business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their business. NFIB’s powerful network of grassroots activists sends their views directly to state and federal lawmakers through our unique member-only ballot, thus playing a critical role in supporting America’s free enterprise system. NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses. More information is available online at