President's weekly report — February 19, 2016

February 19, 2016 | By ROB RIVETT

Florida Supreme Court denies government’s attempt to rehear case

After we won our tremendous Supreme Court victory in Koontz v. St. Johns Water Management District in 2013, the Court sent the case back to the Florida courts. There, the district attempted to relitigate parts of the case. After the lower Florida courts rejected this attempt, the district asked the Florida Supreme Court to take the case up yet again. There it sat for well over a year. But today, Friday, the Florida Supreme Court denied the district’s chance for another bite at the apple. This means that Coy Koontz is one step closer to a final resolution, and an award of damages, in his long-running case.

Property rights and open government

We filed this amicus brief this week in Lake Point Phase I v. Martin County in a Florida court of appeals. After the usual NIMBYs complained about Lake Point’s proposed development, the County denied the permits. But the property owner had some suspicions about the relationship between the county commissioners and some vocal members of the public. After the owner filed a public records act request, the county stalled and stonewalled for over a year. Indeed, one Commissioner’s private gmail account — that was being used for official business — was supposedly “hacked” and all the emails were lost. The landowner sued but lost because the trial court created exception for the public records act when a county makes a mistake. As our brief points out, however, this defense has been rejected by state appellate courts and ought not to survive in this case either. When a County plays fast and loose with both a landowner’s property rights and with the public’s right to know, courts should enforce the law, not write new exceptions.

Discrimination in government contracting

We filed this amicus brief in Dunnet Bay Construction Co. v. Hammond supporting a contractors petition to the Supreme Court for review. This case involves a contractor’s challenge to Illinois’ race-conscious contracting preference program. Our brief explains how the Seventh Circuit did not apply strict scrutiny. It’s decision creates a three-way circuit split concerning the proper analysis that court’s apply to these programs.  Our brief also discusses the Seventh Circuit’s failure to address the available race-neutral alternatives that Illinois neglected to implement.