Friday, July 28, 2017

Seizing diplomatic properties and the takings clause

The Russian government's seizure of "two properties used by American officials" reminds me of something I was wondering about months ago. The Russians are essentially copying what President Obama did when he ordered the seizure of two Russian diplomatic compounds.

I don't know anything about Russian law, but under U.S. law, how was Obama's move legal? Under the Fifth Amendment, the U.S. government cannot take control of private property without paying fair compensation. Were the Russian's paid the fair market value of their diplomatic compounds in December?

Maybe the answer is that the property wasn't really "taken" as much as shut down. Although articles I have read about Obama's move refer to it as "seizing" those properties, the more contemporaneous sources say he had those compounds "shut down." So maybe the Obama Administration avoided the Takings Clause problem by letting the Russians maintain title to the property, while cutting off their access to it? Even in that case, the Russians would have a good argument that it amounts to a regulatory taking.

Does anyone happen to know what specifically Obama did to those Russian properties and how he pulled it off without a legal challenge?