Preseault v. Interstate Commerce Commission

PETITIONER: Preseault
RESPONDENT: Interstate Commerce Commission
LOCATION: Doby’s Motel Court

DOCKET NO.: 88-1076
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 494 US 1 (1990)
ARGUED: Nov 01, 1989
DECIDED: Feb 21, 1990

ADVOCATES:
Brian J. Martin - on behalf of the federal Respondent
John K. Dunleavy - on behalf of the state Respondent
Michael M. Berger - on behalf of the Petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Preseault v. Interstate Commerce Commission

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 01, 1989 in Preseault v. Interstate Commerce Commission

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 21, 1990 in Preseault v. Interstate Commerce Commission

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinions of the Court in two cases will be announced by Justice Brennan.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

The first of the cases is No. 88-1076, Preseault versus the Interstate Commerce Commission.

It is here on certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The question presented is the constitutionality of what is styled a federal rails-to-trails statute.

That is a statute under which unused railroad rights of way are converted into recreational trails notwithstanding whatever revisionary property interest exist under state law.

Petitioners contend that the statue violates both the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause and the Commerce Clause.

We find it unnecessary to evaluate the merits of the taking claim because we hold that even if the rails-to-trails statute gives rise to a taking, compensation is available to petitioners under the Tucker Act and the requirements of the Fifth Amendment are therefore satisfied.

We also hold that the statute is a valid exercise of congressional power under the Commerce Clause.

The decision is unanimous.

Justice O’Connor has filed a concurring opinion in which Justice Scalia and Justice Kennedy join.