If you are looking for insight into the major amendments that affect planning, this blog post will provide an overview of amendments and correlating planning and zoning court cases.

First Amendment

The First Amendment states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Planning Cases Related to the First Amendement

Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission (1980)

This case is centered around the protection of commercial speech. New York ordered all electric companies to cease advertising due to lower energy consumption. Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corporation filed a lawsuit against the order citing that it violated free speech. The outcome resulted in a four part-test to regulate commercial speech without violating the Constitution. To avoid issues with the constitution the ordinance must 1) “substantially advance a legitimate state interest,” 2) allow for a reasonable alternative means of communication, 3) defined narrowly as possible, and 4) impose a reasonable time, place, and manner restriction.


Renton v. Playtime Theatres

In 1986, The City of Renton enacted an ordinance prohibiting adult motion picture theaters from locating within 1,000 feet of any residential zone, single- or multiple-family dwelling, church, or park, and within one mile of any school. Playtime Theatres filed suit to challenge the ordinance on the grounds that it violated the first and fourteenth amendments. The company purchased two properties in restricted areas where they planned to show adult films around the same time. The Court held that it was constitutional since it did completely ban the existence of adult theaters. The ordinance was considered a form of time, place, and manner regulation that considered “the secondary effects of such theaters on the surrounding community.” This case was subject to the four-part test mentioned above.

Reference: Renton v. Playtime Theatres – 475 U.S. 41, 106 S. Ct. 925 (1986)


Metromedia, Inc. v. City of San Diego 

The City of San Diego, California, approved an ordinance prohibiting the erection of outdoor signage of noncommercial communications anywhere unless permitted. The Court overturned the ordinance because it gave preference by allowing for commercial speech while prohibiting private speech. This case failed the test above.

Reference : Metromedia, Inc. v. City of San Diego – 453 U.S. 490, 101 S. Ct. 2882 (1981)



Fifth Amendment

The Fifth Amendent states that no person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


Takings Cases

What is a takings? A taking occur when the government takes private property without just compensation as required by the 5th Amendment of the Constitution.


Example of a trespass on physical property:

Loretto v. Teleprompter Manhattan Catv Corp. (1982)

This case involved an apartment building was purchased by Appellant where the previous owner allowed a cable company to install cable on the property to provide cable service to the tenents. Appellant filed suite that it was a trespass and taking without just compensation. The complaint was upheld in court as a takings.

Reference: Loretto v. Teleprompter Manhattan Catv Corp. – 458 U.S. 419, 102 S. Ct. 3164 (1982)


Lucas v. S.C. Coastal Council (1992)

This case involved a property owner purchased residential lots with the intention of building homes. However, the State enacted the Beachfront Management Act, prohibiting the landowner from building homes on the two parcels This caused the property to all loose economic value and considered a taking by the court.

Reference: Lucas v. S.C. Coastal Council – 505 U.S. 1003, 112 S. Ct. 2886 (1992)


Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon (1922)

This case involves a property owner who purchased land with surface rights. However, the Pennsylvania Coal Company had rights under the Kohler Act to mine the coal underground. The owner filed suit since mining would greatly impact the integrity of the property. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff. The case was considered a taking as the Kohler Act imposed on the owner’s right without just compensation.

Reference: Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon – 260 U.S. 393, 43 S. Ct. 158 (1922)


14TH Amendment

Section 1 Due Process of Law

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty (1926)

Supreme Court validated Zoning on substantive due process grounds as a valid exercise of police power for the exclusion of undesirable uses. The concept of “Euclidian” Zoning came from this case which is zoning that calls for the separation of incompatible land uses.

Mugler v. Kansas (1887)

In this case, the decedent was charged and found guilty of selling and manufacturing liquor without a license or permit. The defendant appealed the decision stating that he was denied rights in accordance with the Constitution. The Court ruled against the defendant since he was not prohibited from operating legally in his building. Also, his business could be considered a nuisance under the law.

Reference: Mugler v. Kansas – 123 U.S. 623, 8 S. Ct. 273 (1887)

Fredrick Douglass

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