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Citation. 276 U.S. 272, 48 S. Ct. 246, 72 L. Ed. 568, 1928 U.S. 78.
Brief Fact Summary. An official for the State of Virginia ordered the destruction of Plaintiffs’ diseased cedar trees in order to protect their neighbors nearby apple trees. The Plaintiffs were given no compensation.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A State does not exceed its constitutional powers by deciding upon the destruction of one class of property in order to save another which, in the judgment of the legislature, is of greater value to the public.
Acting pursuant to the Virginia Cedar Rust Act (the “Act”ť), a state official ordered Plaintiffs to cut down a large number of red cedar trees growing on their property. The purpose of the order was to prevent the spread of a plant disease, with which the cedar trees were infected, to apple orchids that lay in the vicinity of the cedar trees. The plant disease was destructive of apple trees but not cedar trees. The only practicable means for protecting the apple trees was the destruction of all of the cedar trees. The Plaintiffs were not compensated for their loss of the cedar trees. Issue.
May a State constitutionally order the destruction of one class of private property in order to save another class of property when the property to be saved is considered of higher value to the public?