Supreme Court Delivers Victory For 94-Year-Old Homeowner, Ruling Against ‘Home Equity Theft’

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Supreme Court Delivers Victory For 94-Year-Old Homeowner, Ruling Against ‘Home Equity Theft’


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The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday that a county’s decision to keep surplus profits after selling a 94-year-old woman’s home to cover a tax debt violates the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Geraldine Tyler owed a $15,000 tax debt on one-bedroom Minneapolis condo; to pay the debt, Hennepin County, Minnesota sold her home for $40,000—and kept the extra $25,000 beyond what was owed. Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the opinion of the Court that the taxpayer must “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but no more,” effectively ending the practice of home equity theft.

“The County had the power to sell Tyler’s home to recover the unpaid property taxes,” he wrote. “But it could not use the toehold of the tax debt to confiscate more property than was due.”

Home equity theft is already illegal in all but a dozen states and Washington, D.C.

Justice Neil Gorsuch filed a concurring opinion, which Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson joined, adding that the county’s action also violates the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause.

“Economic penalties imposed to deter willful noncompliance with the law are fines by any other name,” he wrote. “And the Constitution has something to say about them: They cannot be excessive.”

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All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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