The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Secretary of the Interior’s new regulation forbidding the sale of any eagle body parts, although legally acquired, does not violate the fifth amendment’s taking clause.
When property is acquired legally, a new probation on the sale of that property does not violate the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment.
The Federal Eagle Protection Act (FEPA) protects two species of eagle, the bald eagle and the gold eagle, by disallowing the sale of any eagle eggs or body parts. However, the law does not protect against any legally obtained eagle parts before the law went into effect in 1940. Allard (Plaintiff) has sold and continues to sell Native American Artifacts which in some instances, traditionally include feathers from these now protected eagles. The Secretary of the Interior (Andrus)(Defendant) created a new regulation now forbidding the sale of all feathers even if legally obtained before 1940. Plaintiff was eventually prosecuted for continuously selling eagle feathers as part of a native American artifact in direct violation of the new regulation. Plaintiff claims the new regulation does not prohibit the sale of feathers obtained before the year 1940 and if the court did find that the regulation did, then the regulation was a direct violation of his fifth amendment right pursuant to the takings clause. The District Court ruled in favor of the Plaintiff. Defendant appeals.
Whether a government’s new regulation which prohibits the sale of legally obtained eagle feathers violates the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause?
No. The Supreme Court determines that although legally acquired, the prohibition on selling the leally acquired item does not violate the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause. The Court reasons that the new regulation expands the protection of the eagle under the original act. Furthermore, the Court emphasizes that in some instances, such as this one, the prohibition of economic activity is not always deemed a taking under the Fifth Amendment clause even if it may reduce the value of the property. Thus, the Court reversed the District Court’s decision.
The Court views this prohibition as only taking away one interest (being able to sell the property) of many that a property owner possesses while being in possession of property, but fails to consider perhaps the only intended desire to possess this property was to sell the property.