Legal Briefs

Empress Casino v. Giannoulias

In Empress Casino v. Giannoulias, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld a statute transferring money from private riverboat casinos to private horseracing tracks, finding that the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause does not apply to exactions of money from private entities. The casinos are seeking review of that decision in the U.S. Supreme Court. Cato’s brief argues that the Court should grant certiorari for yet another reason: The Illinois statute (which coincidentally appeared in the transcript of the Blagojevich sting) is in clear violation of the Takings Clause’s “public use” requirement, impermissibly eroding protections for private property even under Kelo v. New London’s (flawed) standard. The statute does nothing more than rob Peter to pay Paul, a result that cannot be squared with the Fifth Amendment, which permits government takings only for public use, and then only if just compensation is paid. It is instead a naked transfer of the casinos’ revenues to the racetracks, with no meaningful restriction on how the racetracks use those funds — and does not remotely resemble any public use approved by the Supreme Court. Permitting such a statute to stand will only encourage federal, state, and local governments to exact funds from one private actor for the exclusive benefit of another, transgressing the property rights and economic liberties at the core of the Fifth Amendment.

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