Second Amendment Shake Up After Unanimous Supreme Court Decision

By: David Donovan | Published: Jun 10, 2024

A unanimous 9-0 decision by the United States Supreme Court in the Dillia v. Texas case addressed whether people can sue states in federal court for compensation.

This comes under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the lawsuit came from a 2017 incident where a highway median barrier in Texas caused damage to private properties from stormwaters.

Damage in Houston

The Houston area of Texas affected by the stormwater redirection caused damage to homes, businesses, crops, and livestock.

Buffalo Bayou after Hurrican Harvey in 2017, there are buildings visible in the background.

Flickr user urban.houstonian

Central to the case was the interpretation of the Takings Clause and whether it can allow people to directly sue states for compensation without the need for congressional say-so.


Ruling from the Supreme Court

This ruling highlights a difficult legal problem as Texas was able to transfer the case from state to federal court.

beige concrete building under blue sky during daytime

Unsplash user Ian Hutchinson

They were able to argue that federal courts did not have the jurisdiction to try the case and that the Takings Clause would require particular authorization from Congress.

Texas Dismissal Request

Texas had requested that the case be dismissed but it was rejected by the federal district court.

Autumn trees and foliage along the clear water of the Guadalupe River in Texas.

Unsplash user Thomas Park

This was due to them stating that the Takings Clause is “self-executing” as it lets property wonders directly sue states in federal court for property seizure compensation.

District Court Appeal

Texas then tried appealing to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals who overturned the district court’s ruling.

The John Minor Wisdom U.S. Courthouse, home of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Wikimedia Commons user Bobak Ha'Eri

In their statement, they claimed that the Takings Clause as part of the 14th Amendment does not allow individuals the right to sue states unless they have congressional authorization.

Supreme Court Review

As the Supreme Court reviewed the case they decided in a 9-0 decision to overturn the Fifth Circuit’s decision.

Interior of U.S. Supreme Court, there is a red curtain separating chairs and a board

Unsplash user Jackie Hope

This allows for the landowner’s case to proceed although the Court did not provide comment on whether the Takings Clause would apply “self-executing” against states.


Alito’s Comment

Writing for the Court, Justice Alito stated that past rulings are not clear in their answer on whether persons can sue states directly under the Takings Clause without congressional say-so.

With President George W. Bush Looking on, Judge Samuel A. Alito Acknowledges his Nomination as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

United States Government

Now the case has been sent down to the lower courts again to be further considered as part of Texas state law.


Gun Law Implications

Lawsuits that challenge gun laws that are based on the Second Amendment could have implications following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dillia v. Texas

Wilson Combat Sig P320, there are bullets in the background

Unsplash user steve woods

The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment does not provide compensation for actions like confiscation or destruction of firearms although cases argue that this violates the Clause.


Court’s Lack of Clarity

There is now uncertainty in how legal proceedings can develop in claims relating to the Second Amendment.

Guns lined up on a fence in holsters

Unsplash user seeetz

This is because of the Court’s decision not to provide specific wording on if the Takings Clause will allow individuals to sue states directly in federal court.


Takings Violations

The lack of clarity in the wording of proceedings means that those looking to argue takings violations when challenging state gun control laws may prove challenging.

Man in red snapback shooting targets outdoors as a bullet shell is discarded.

Unsplash user Joel Moysuh

This could span bans on assault weapons, restrictions on magazine capacity, and requirements for firearm registration.


Federal Court Jurisdiction

States may be able to continue arguing that federal courts do not have jurisdiction over direct takings claims until the Supreme Court provides clarification on the wording in the ruling.

white concrete building near trees during daytime

Unsplash user Bill Mason

This could impact Second Amendment cases which are filed against federal courts without providing congressional authorization for a cause of action.


Gun Rights Lawsuits

This may complicate cases pertaining to gun rights lawsuits as they could be funneled through a complicated process going from state courts to then returning to the federal system.

A wooden gavel on a white marble backdrop.

Unsplash user Tingey Injury Law Firm

There is now doubt over how legal proceedings will unfold if takings claims against states in federal court do not have a specific statutory cause of action from Congress.

The ruling highlights how the legal landscape is continuing to change and evolve over time as stakeholders must stay alert to the principles outlined in the Constitution.