Constitutional Law – Eminent Domain – Extension of Fifth Amendment “Taking” to Include Destruction of Lien Right by the Doctrine of Immunity of Government Property from Attachment

Upon default of the contracting shipbuilder, the United States acquired title to certain materials in accordance with a contract provision. Petitioners, who had previously acquired materialmen’s liens on these materials, claimed that assertion of the doctrine of immunity of government property from attachment resulted in a “taking” of their liens in violation of the fifth amendment. This was rejected by the Court of Claims. On certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, held, reversed, three Justices dissenting. Since the builder had title at the time the materials were furnished, the property was not a “public work” and thus the liens attached. The right to resort to specific property for the satisfaction of a debt is a compensable property interest and its destruction constitutes a “taking” within meaning of the fifth amendment. Armstrong v. United States, 364 U.S. 40 (1960).