This Article features the case of a real property owner who disclaimed all her burdens under state law for over six years yet later claimed substantial benefits under federal law. Because this distorts any rational burden-benefit analysis, this Article scrutinizes the U.S. Supreme Court’s groundbreaking decision in Tyler v. Hennepin County that radically reinterpreted the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In Tyler, a unanimous Supreme Court departed from the consensus among the lower federal courts and discovered a novel property right—the constitutional entitlement to surplus proceeds from a sovereign State’s real property tax-foreclosure sale. Despite Minnesota’s clear and comprehensive foreclosure process, which affords property owners ample opportunities to bear minimal burdens to fulfill their tax obligations or relinquish their property interests, Tyler involved a property owner who remained unresponsive for nine years, effectively transferring her burdens to the State. If the tax sale proceeds failed to cover the property owner’s tax liability, the State would bear the entire loss, and the property owner’s tax liability would be canceled. In contrast, in cases of a surplus, as happened in this case, the property owner would reap all benefits. Even though the taxpayer had every right to sell her property, pay her taxes, and reap the benefits, the Supreme Court reached a counterintuitive conclusion that endorsed this “heads-I-win, tails-you-lose” game that the property owner had played with a sovereign State over an extended period. Scrutinizing the Court’s analysis of historical context, federal precedent, and Minnesota statutory law, this Article grapples with the enigmatic question of precisely where and how the Court unearthed this newfound federal constitutional right that disrupts the delicate federalism equilibrium carefully developed over the past 250 years. While designating surplus proceeds as the taxpayer’s property may appear to align with sound public policy, this Article raises doubts that the U.S. Constitution has historically been the guardian of such a right. Through a critical examination of Tyler, this Article invites readers to evaluate the boundaries of Takings Clause protections and their implications for federalism in the United States.

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