The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Florida can undertake beach-widening projects without paying beachfront property owners who lose exclusive access to the water.
The court, by an 8-0 vote, rejected a challenge by six homeowners in Florida's Panhandle who argued that a beach-widening project changed their oceanfront property into oceanview. Justice John Paul Stevens took no part in the case in which the court affirmed an earlier ruling.
Private property advocates had hoped the court would rule for the first time that a court decision can amount to a taking of property.
The court's four conservatives — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — were prepared to rule that way, even though the homeowners still would have lost in this case, Scalia said in his opinion for the court. But they lacked a fifth vote.
The Constitution requires governments to pay "just compensation" when they take private property for public use.