The Court of Federal Claims, recognizing that the very law that destroyed the terminal would have given it immense market value, assessed just compensation at $133 million. But last year, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed that decision, ruling that the investors were due exactly zero for an investment that the government had destroyed and would now confiscate. The appeals court reasoned that because the terminal was not earning a positive cash flow, it had zero economic value — a notion utterly at odds with reality, in which thousands of transactions place a high value on investments that take years to bear fruit.

This ruling would have a dampening effect on all kinds of American businesses. Indeed, many of the nation’s roughly 30 million businesses invest years of capital in under-utilized commercial property before reaping the profits.