The Township of Canton, Michigan makes it a crime to remove trees from your own property. Under the Township’s tree ordinance, removing any “tree,” defined as anything with a woody stem and a three-inch diameter, is punishable by up to a $450 fine. And the Township isn’t afraid to enforce its ordinance. It is currently pursuing hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines against property owners for removing brush and vegetation from their own private property.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for the American Future represents three of those property owners in two lawsuits arguing that the Township’s absurd application of its tree ordinance is an unconstitutional taking of private property under the Fifth Amendment and an “excessive fine” in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.