You Can Check Out But You Can Never Leave: The Story of San Remo Hotel -- The Supreme Court Relegates Federal Takings Claims to State Courts Under a Rule Intended to Ripen the Claims for Federal Review
On June 20, 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision in San Remo Hotel, L.P. v. City of San Francisco, holding that property owners with “takings” claims arising under the Fifth Amendment could not obtain federal review after litigating in state court in compliance with the ripeness requirements of Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank. The case presented the specific question of whether federal takings claimants could invoke an exception to claim and issue preclusion doctrines under England v. Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners because Williamson County forced them to involuntarily litigate in state court. This Article reviews the San Remo decision, criticizing the majority’s narrow interpretation of England and the result in banishing takings claims to state courts. The Article then explores the Williamson County ripeness requirement, and condemns the majority’s decision for failing to explicitly address Williamson County’s flaws. Finally, the Article considers whether San Remo closes the federal courthouse door to takings claims seeking noncompensatory relief.