Virginia was attempting to
control an outbreak of a plant disease that was affecting the apple crop.
They ordered Miller to cut down a large number of cedar trees on his
property to help control the spread of the disease.
Virginia was acting pursuant
to the Cedar Rust Act of Virginia.
The lumber from the cedar
trees could still be sold, but it wouldn't be worth as much as if the
trees were allowed to grow to full size.
Miller didn't want to cut down
his trees, so he sued for an injunction.
Miller argued that the
request was an unconstitutional violation of the Takings Clause.
Miller argued that the State
was choosing to destroy his property to save the property of another
private citizen, and that was an unfair denial of due process.
The US Supreme Court upheld
The US Supreme Court found
that Virginia had a legitimate need to protect its citizens and its lands
from environmental damage.
The Court found that
Virginia was acting out of necessity, and when forced to such a choice,
the State does not exceed its constitutional powers by deciding upon the
destruction of one class of property in order to save another, which, in
the judgment of the legislature, is of greater value to the public.
"For where, as here,
the choice is unavoidable, we cannot say that its exercise, controlled
by considerations of social policy which are not unreasonable, involves
any denial of due process.
The Court found that if the
State did not take action, then the apple tree owners would sue, claiming
that the lack of regulation led to the destruction of their property, and
that could constitute a taking.
Few people would think that
if the apples were destroyed because of State inaction, the apple
growers would deserve compensation. So by similar logic, the cedar
growers don't deserve compensation for their losses by State action.