D&G Law

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Guin, Stokes & Evans Wins U.S. Supreme Court Case for Homeowners Thursday, 22 June, 2023

In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court in one of GSE’s several governmental equity theft cases, Tyler v. Hennepin County, ruled that a Minnesota law allowing local governments to seize all the equity in a home over much smaller property tax debts is unconstitutional. Read the Supreme Court opinion here.

The Court ruled that when the government takes a person’s home equity to satisfy a property tax debt, it violates the Constitution’s “Takings Clause”, which bars the government from taking private property without paying just compensation.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts said “A taxpayer who loses her $40,000 house to the State to fulfill a $15,000 tax debt has made a far greater contribution to the public fisc than she owed. The taxpayer must render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but no more.

Additionally, Justice Gorsuch’s concurring opinion (joined by Justice Jackson) concluded that home equity theft may also violate the Constitution’s Excessive Fines Clause, which limits the amount governments can take as punishment for an offense. He said “Economic penalties imposed to deter willful noncompliance with the law are fines by any other name. And the Constitution has something to say about them: They cannot be excessive.”

Charles Watkins and David Guin of GSE, along with Vildan Teske of Teske Law PLLC and Garrett Blanchfield of Reinhardt, Wendorf & Blanchfield filed and have primary responsibility for the Tyler case.  At the Supreme Court, they were joined by the Pacific Legal Foundation and Christina Martin, who argued the case before the Court.

GSE is pursuing class action lawsuits in various states and counties on behalf of property owners whose properties were seized by a local government for property taxes.  If you or your client has been the subject of a governmental foreclosure, please contact Charles Watkins or David Guin if you would like to learn more about your rights and options.