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Constitutional Law

Exam 28

30 minutes

Fact Pattern

“Bottom trawling” is a fishing method by which boats drag special nets, called bottom trawls, across the sea floor. Bottom trawling is very successful in catching squid and shrimp. Unfortunately, it also results in the accidental capture of many other species, and destroys coral and other natural ocean habitats. This fishing method has become so destructive that satellite imagery of the Gulf of Mexico shows visible trails of seafloor destruction from bottom trawling.

To combat this destructive practice, and pursuant to its commerce power, Congress passes the Save Our Seafloors Act (the Act). The Act prohibits the use of bottom trawling fishing methods in the Gulf of Mexico, where this fishing method has been the most destructive. These fishing methods, however, are still permissible in other waterways. 

F has been a commercial shrimp fisherman for 25 years. He uses only the bottom trawling method to fish and owns his own boat and bottom trawl. All of F’s commercial fishing takes place in the Gulf of Mexico. 

F is upset at the Act, because he is unable to continue fishing in the Gulf. He believes that the Act essentially renders his boat and bottom trawl useless, and he has received no payment for the loss of his equipment. F sues the federal government, arguing that the Act amounts to a taking of property without just compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


  1. How should the court rule? Explain, focusing solely on the taking issue.

Question 1

How should the court rule? Explain, focusing solely on the taking issue.