AG Nessel Joins Coalition Defending Right to Access Private Property to Protect Public Health and Safety 

Contact: Ryan Jarvi 517-599-2746
Agency: Attorney General

February 17, 2021

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and 17 other attorneys general recently filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid arguing the importance of state and federal regulations that allow limited access to private property to protect the health and safety of workers and the general public.  

In Michigan, statutes like the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act are in place to protect public health, safety and welfare. To achieve those goals, they provide for reasonable access to private property to conduct inspections and investigations of safety and environmental conditions. 

“Many of the laws and regulations in our country established protections for the public at-large, and providing limited access to private property is a reasonable accommodation to ensure the safety of our residents is not jeopardized by a situation that could be avoided,” Nessel said. “The importance of these laws must not be overlooked, and I stand by my colleagues in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the ramifications of its decision in this case.” 

The coalition argues that the petitioners’ proposed rule could threaten to invalidate numerous state statutes and local ordinances providing limited rights of access in a variety of circumstances. Among those are workplace and food-safety inspection laws, public access provisions, record-keeping inspection regimes and environmental laws. In their amicus brief, the attorneys general also argue that state and federal statutes allowing states limited access to private property is essential to protecting the health and safety of workers and the general public. The amicus brief cites numerous examples of laws and regulations that could be impacted by this lawsuit including: 

  • Federal statutes that allow for inspections of mines and railroad property for various reasons, such as determining the cause of an accident, inspect equipment or records, etc.; 
  • A Virginia law that allows inspectors to check for asbestos in construction sites; 
  • A Tennessee law that allows health officials to inspect any site with a radiation source; and 
  • A Nebraska law that allows state officials to visit and observe foster care facilities to make sure foster children are adequately cared for. 

Nessel joins the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington in filing this brief. 

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