Amicus Briefs

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Property Rights

February 19, 2021

The Fourth Amendment Defends Liberty by Securing Property from Government Invasions

Caniglia v. Strom

This case is about whether the police have the right to enter your home without a warrant while you're away and confiscate your property under the guise of "community caretaking." If they have the power to do this, as the First Circuit Court of Appeals said, then every person's home is less secure against arbitrary government trespasses with every ...

April 20, 2020

The police can't deliberately destroy innocent people’s homes without paying fair, constitutionally-required compensation

Lech v. City of Greenwood Village

This case is about whether the Constitution requires the government to compensate an innocent family for deliberately destroying their house while attempting to arrest a fugitive. In our friend-of-the-court brief, PLF argues that the Supreme Court should grant the Institute for Justice's petition for a writ of certiorari because the Tenth Circui ...

December 09, 2019

Property rights enable landowners to protect themselves from pollution

Atlantic Richfield Co. v Christian

In Atlantic Richfield Company v. Christian, the Supreme Court will decide whether landowners can sue the owner of a copper smelter that dumped tons of toxic pollutants on their property. If they can sue, as the Montana Supreme Court held, private property rights will remain one of the most important tools for protecting the environment. If they can ...

November 08, 2018

Colorado evades state Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights

National Federation of Independent Business v. Williams

Colorado voters added the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights to their state constitution to ensure voter approval of all state and local tax increases. Government frequently attempts to dodge this provision by characterizing charges as "fees," which do not require voter approval. The difference between a tax and a fee is that a fee defrays the cost of provi ...

September 14, 2018

Excessive Fines Clause applies to all governments

Timbs v. Indiana

PLF has joined a crucial case brought by our allies at Institute for Justice to address a situation faced by many PLF clients—fines and forfeitures that far outweigh their alleged offenses. Tyson Timbs argues in a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court that such disproportionate punishments by state and local governments violate the Eighth Amendment' ...

August 27, 2018

The state has no “public trust” power over groundwater

Environmental Law Foundation v. State Water Resources Control Board

Environmentalists sued the State of California and Siskiyou County on the theory that the government's failure to regulate groundwater violates the public trust doctrine. This doctrine traditionally applies only to navigable waters and entrusts the government with the responsibility to preserve the land and resources for productive, recreational, a ...

August 27, 2018

A tax by any other name would smell as rotten

Citizens for Fair REU Rates v. City of Redding, California

The Redding City Council adopted a budget that included a "payment in lieu of taxes" to be paid by its municipally-owned utility to the city's general fund. Taxpayers sued the city on the basis that the "payment" was an unconstitutional tax because it paid for general services and was enacted absent the voter approval required by the state's Propos ...

August 17, 2018

Long-outlawed lead paint is not a public nuisance

ConAgra Grocery Products v. California

The State of California brought a lawsuit in 2000 to abate the alleged public nuisance caused by five companies' manufacture and sale of lead paint at a time when lead paint was legal. The trial court found three of the companies to be liable for creating a public nuisance and ordered them to pay over a billion dollars into an abatement fund. As a ...

March 28, 2018

Beachfront property owners have a constitutional right to exclude trespassers

Surfrider Foundation v. Martins Beach 1, LLC

When a beachfront property owner discontinued his practice of allowing beachgoers to park on his land for a fee, disgruntled beachgoers sued the owner to establish their "right" to trespass on the owner's land. They based their claim on the "public trust" doctrine, which gives the state title to waters and the land beneath. It does not extend to dr ...

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