Text Assist for Unconstitutional Conditions Doctrine Flowchart


The Doctrine of Unconstitutional Conditions prevents a state from imposing a condition that is unrelated to the purpose to be furthered. If the government conditions the use or regulation of an ownerís property on the receipt of a public benefit, the government must compensate the owner unless:
1) There is an essential nexus between the legitimate state interest and the condition; and
2) The nature and extent of the condition are roughly proportional to the harm prevented by the regulation.

For example:
1) A school may not discharge a teacher for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech. Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563 (1968).
2) A state may not refuse to pay unemployment benefits to a Seventh Day Adventist who rejects a job that requires he to work on Saturdays. Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963).


Discretionary government benefit:
These are benefits that the government may grant or revoke based on a reasonable analysis of societal needs.


Government confers the benefit with conditions

Below are two examples of a benefit with a condition attached. As you can see, Nollanís condition was found unconstitutional, while PruneYardís was acceptable.
1) In Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, 483 U.S. 825 (1987), Nollan wanted to expand his beachfront house and applied for a permit. The California Coastal Commission replied with a conditional approval: Nollan could expand on the condition that he grant an easement to the general public to use the beach in front of his house. The Supreme Court found that such a "condition" on a building permit constituted a taking for which Nollan must be compensated.
2) In PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74 (1980), the Supreme Court upheld that California Supreme Courtís ruling that owners of private shopping centers may not exclude persons who with to engage in nondisruptive speech and petitioning activities. So, although the Court eliminated part of the property owners right to select users of their property, the Court held it was not a taking because the owners could not demonstrate that an unchecked right to exclude others was a basic part of the economic value of the shopping center.


Is the condition that recipient must relinquish a constitutional right?

Examples of cases in which the Court found the individual had to give up a constitutional right without adequate nexus to the desired ends:
1) A school may not discharge a teacher for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech. Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563 (1968).
2) A state may not refuse to pay unemployment benefits to a Seventh Day Adventist who rejects a job that requires he to work on Saturdays. Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963).


Is there a substantial relationship ("essential nexus") between the benefit and the condition?
For example, in Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, 483 U.S. 825 (1987), had the Coastal Commission created a nexus between the building code restriction and the beach easement, they might have succeeded in imposing such a condition. For example, if the Coastal Commission had created a nexus between the limitation on building size (stating that itís for the publicís aesthetic enjoyment) with the granting of a beach easement (also for the publicís aesthetic enjoyment), then that condition would be acceptable because "the publicís aesthetic enjoyment" is the "nexus" between the two issues. But the easement at issue in Nollan was not tied together with the building restriction and was therefore an Unconstitutional Condition.


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