Wild Dunes and Serbonian Bogs: The Impact of the Lucas Decision on Shoreline Protection Programs

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In Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, the United Supreme Court was forced once again to delve into the law of regulatory takings. This experience is seldom a pleasant one. Echoing the poet John Milton, an exasperated state court judge once described takings law as a “Serbonian Bog.” Unfortunately, the takings doctrine is only slightly more comprehensible after the Lucas decision than it was before. Nevertheless, progress in this area, however modest, deserves praise, and the Court is to be commended for clarifying one aspect of takings jurisprudence. As a result of Lucas a “categorical rule” has been announced that provides for compensation when a state regulation deprives a landowner of all economically valuable property use.

The Article is divided into four parts. Part I reviews the property regime of coastal areas as well as some representative shoreline management schemes. Part II explores the “Serbonian Bog” —the law of regulatory takings. Part III examines South Carolina's Beachfront Management Act and analyzes the Lucas decision in some detail. Finally, Part IV evaluates the significance of Lucas and discusses its potential impact on various aspects of shoreline management and environmental protection.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)437-471
JournalDenver University Law Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993


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