MASGC Project Impacts

Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant legal research informs judicial analysis


The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that private property may not be taken for public use without just compensation. In 1922, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a regulation that goes “too far” amounts to a taking. Federal and state courts have been struggling to figure out when a regulation goes “too far” for the past 80 years. Takings claims involving the regulation of coastal property have proven particularly challenging for courts due to the intersection of private and public rights in the coastal zone. Because the law in this area is complex and evolving, state and local governments are reluctant to enact new laws and regulations to address ongoing and emerging coastal hazards, which increases the risk of future environmental and social harm.


In 2010, the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program and project partners Florida Sea Grant, Louisiana Sea Grant Law and Policy Program, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, and Texas Wesleyan School of Law launched a new legal research and outreach project on the impact of the “regulatory takings” doctrine on the ability of local governments to implement sea level rise adaptation policies. This work was funded by the Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant Programs, the Environmental Protection Agency Gulf of Mexico Program and the Northern Gulf Institute. The project team conducted in-depth legal research on a range of legal issues and produced five law review articles that were published in the Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law.


The project team’s research is informing the legal debate regarding the impact of the takings doctrine on state and local coastal management decisions. In a high-profile Texas regulatory takings case, Severance v. Patterson, involving the Texas Open Beaches Act, a dissenting judge cited one of the project team’s law review articles seven times to support his argument that the majority was not adequately considering the potential environmental impact of its ruling.


The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program and project partners conducted legal research on the impact of the regulatory takings doctrine that informed the legal debate regarding the Texas Open Beaches Act. (2014)