What are Lucas’ ‘background principles?’

December 07, 2009 | By LUKE WAKE

In Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 505 U.S. 1003 (1992), the court held that a state could not deny a landowner all economically beneficial use of a property; however, it made an exception for regulations which were permitted by “background principles of the state’s property and nuisance” law. But what exactly are ‘back ...


What are transferable development rights?

April 30, 2010 | By LUKE WAKE

We all know that the Fifth Amendment protects our right to use and enjoy our property. But, that doesn’t stop government regulators from trying to find innovative ways to get around the Fifth Amendment. In recent years land use planners have begun experimenting with “transferable development rights” as a way to avoid liability un ...


What happens if the individual mandate is struck down?

May 21, 2010 | By LUKE WAKE

Let us suppose that at the end of the day the Individual Mandate provision of the new health care legislation is struck down as unconstitutional. What have we accomplished? For starters we will have won a Commerce Clause challenge, which would be noteworthy in itself. This would make clear that there are real limitations on the … ...


SFMTA proposal raises constitutional issues

April 08, 2011 | By LUKE WAKE

Last week Pacific Legal Foundation sent a letter to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), commenting on the legal implications of its proposal to impose “Transit Impact Development Fees” on new residential developments in the City. The plan would substantially raise the cost of development in the City, and would t ...


If a tree falls in the woods… Can ‘Mother Nature’ sue?

April 14, 2011 | By LUKE WAKE

Earlier this year I reported on lunacy at the UN Framework Convention on climate change. The Executive Director of the Framework Convention literally asked a Mayan Goddess to “inspire” the delegates. At the time, I offered some satirical comments on the environmental movement’s tendency to worship nature. But its true, withou ...


Global warming suits may go extinct

April 22, 2011 | By LUKE WAKE

This week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in AEP v. Connecticut, a case advanced by a few states and environmentalist organizations on the theory that a defendant can be dragged in to court for emitting green house gases. Under this theory, anyone could potentially be a defendant because the entire world is contributing to the problem  ...


Coastal Commission denied unilateral power to impose fines and penalties

May 03, 2011 | By LUKE WAKE

P.J. O’Rourke once said that “giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” That seems to hold true with the California Coastal Commission, an agency already drunk with the illusion of a near limitless power over the California coast. We have long detailed the examples of their attempt ...


LEED is not green enough for Coastal Commission

June 17, 2011 | By LUKE WAKE

Yesterday I attended the California Coastal Commission’s meeting in Marina Del Ray as part of our Coastal Land Rights Project’s mission to monitor the Commission’s activities. The Commission spent almost an entire day debating six permits, which Commission staff viewed as one project. The meeting was very contentious. The six appl ...


Federal court strikes down protectionist law in Louisiana

July 22, 2011 | By LUKE WAKE

This week a judge ruled in favor of the monks at St. Joseph Abbey in their suit challenging a protectionist law. The monks wanted to provide for themselves by building and selling handcrafted caskets. But, “Under Louisiana law, it was a crime for anyone but a government-licensed funeral director to sell ‘funeral merchandise,’ whi ...