National Board of Young Men's Christian Associations v. United States

PETITIONER: National Board of Young Men's Christian Associations
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: The corner of Lafayette Avenue and St. James Place

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1969)

CITATION: 395 US 85 (1969)
ARGUED: Mar 03, 1969
DECIDED: May 19, 1969

Facts of the case


Media for National Board of Young Men's Christian Associations v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 03, 1969 in National Board of Young Men's Christian Associations v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 517, the National Board of Young Men's Christian Association et al., Petitioners, v. United States.

Mr. Jacks.

Ronald A. Jacks:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

I believe we have made arrangements with the petitioner in the Solicitor General's office for the use of a diagram, if we may that the marshal is bringing in at this moment.

Earl Warren:

Very well.

Ronald A. Jacks:

I may just in advance say that this is an action for just compensation under the Fifth Amendment to the United States constitution.

It arises out of the United States army's seizure and use of private property, in this case buildings belonging to the petitioners during the Panamanian riots of 1962.

The issue before this Court as we view it is whether the Court of Claims correctly held the that U.S. military forces may sieze and use private property without incurring a duty to provide compensation under the Fifth Amendment whenever they are faced with a “immediate necessity.”

The facts are as follows: if I may briefly refer to them.

This is a chart that was prepared by the United States Government for presentation to the organization of American states following the Panamanian riots in the course of a charge that United States was the aggressor in these riots.

Its accuracy has been stipulated too.

The buildings that are here today are the real building, the real property in question.

This is the Masonic Temple and this is the YMCA belonging to the petitioners here.

Excuse me.

This is Cristobal and Cologne in the Atlantic or northern end of the zone.

The boundary between -- this is the Canal Zone and this is the Republic of Panama and the boundary runs down the middle of this street, 11th Street and down Bolivar Avenue.

On the evening in question, January 9, 1964, United States Military Forces were called to this end of the zone in response to request from the civilian command and ordered to clear the zone of rioters.

United States Army troops starting here on Front Street moved down 11th street, cleared the zone of rioters, move behind the YMCA and the Masonic Temple, had brief scuffles with rioters who were then in both of those buildings, evicted them, moved them out to the streets -- thank you, move them out in the streets and took a position, stationed troops on the bound -- in the middle of the street just inside the border on the boundary line.

This is approximately from 10 to midnight on the night of January 4.

Shortly after midnight, they began to receive sniper fire directed at the troop stationed in front of the buildings.

U.S. Commander then ordered the troops --

Earl Warren:

Directed at what station?

Ronald A. Jacks:

Pardon me Mr. Chief Justice, directed at United States army troops, station in the street along 11th Street in Bolivar Avenue.

They're actually out in the street at that point.

Potter Stewart:

Could you point out where your building is again.

Ronald A. Jacks:


This is the YMCA Mr. Justice Stewart and this is the Masonic Temple.

Potter Stewart:

Right next to it.

Ronald A. Jacks:

Right next to it.

The Masonic Temple forms the right end -- the building inside the right angle of the boundary in that point.