2 weeks ago

Michigan’s foreclosure law: Efficient or unfair?

By Kate A. Pomeroy Media Director

Taylor Popielarz of ABC57 News  (South Bend, IN) aired a terrific segment that questions whether or not Michigan’s foreclosure law is “efficient or unfair.” We think you’ll agree the law is unfair even if it allows the government to efficiently take your property it doesn’t deserve.

As you will recall, since last year, Christina Martin has been keeping you up to date on Michigan’s unjust, and unconstitutional foreclosure law in Wayside Church v. Van Buren County. Before PLF took over the direct representation of the victims of this unfair law, including Wayside Church, it filed an amicus brief to support them in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. It explained how Michigan’s tax scheme violates the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  As Martin related on Liberty Blog:

In Michigan, when landowners fail to pay their property taxes, local governments take the property, sell it, and keep all the profits—no matter how small the debt or how valuable the property. As a result, local governments are profiting handsomely over the misfortune of their residents.

Unfortunately, the Sixth Circuit dismissed the case earlier this year on procedural grounds. The court held that Michigan courts offer a “reasonable, certain, and adequate” remedy for Wayside Churches constitutional claim, so it didn’t answer the central question of whether the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause was violated.

In July, PLF took over the direct representation of three victims of the law and petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States to protect property owners’ rights by recognizing federal jurisdiction and holding that Van Buren County violated the Takings Clause.

We should know by late fall if the highest court in the land will hear this case. Either way, we’ll keep fighting for individual liberty for as long as it takes to secure the just result.

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Wayside Church v. Van Buren County, Michigan

The state of Michigan allows counties to take and sell tax-delinquent properties and keep all the profits from the sale – no matter how small the tax debt or how valuable the property. Three Van Buren County property owners lost their properties over relatively small tax debts, resulting in major windfalls for the county when it sold their properties at a foreclosure auction. The taxpayers sued on the grounds that the county’s uncompensated taking of their property beyond what was needed to square the tax debt violates the constitution. The district court ruled against them on the merits and the Sixth Circuit held that their claim was not even eligible to be considered. PLF took over the case to ask for Supreme Court review.

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