President's weekly report — November 20, 2015
Mobile home park shakedown scheme challenged
PLF attorneys filed this complaint this week in Jisser v. City of Palo Alto on behalf of a couple that would like to retire from the business of running a mobile home park but cannot do so unless they pay $8 million to buy our the current residents. The City says the park contains some of the few affordable housing units in the City — but that’s not the Jissers’ fault — it’s the fault of the City for years of no-growth rules and regulations. The Jissers were given two choices by the City: remain in the mobile home park business forever or pay $8 million to get out. But there’s a third option that the City hadn’t apparently thought of: a lawsuit against the City based on the constitutional precedents we set in Nollan and Koontz. For more, see our website’s case page here, our litigation backgrounder here or our blog post here.
Victory in Florida manatee case
In response to our petition to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Commission has agreed to amend its proposed regulations for manatee slow-speed zones near Indian Rocks Beach — so that those regulations will now cover just those areas where manatees actually swim. It’s nice to see commonsense prevail. For more, see our blog post here.
Making government pay for its wrongdoing.
We filed this amicus brief in support of the Johnson family in Town of Ponce Inlet, Florida v. Pacetta, a long-running dispute where the town basically led the family down a primrose path of promises before stabbing them in the back. When the family proposed developing six acres, the town said “great, but why don’t you develop the entire waterfront?” The family obliged and bought ten acres more so they could do just that. But by the time it came to permit-time, the City changed direction. Now led by a new no-growth contingent, it refused to grant any permits. The family was left holding a collection of worthless parcels — including many parcels that they wouldn’t have purchased if they hadn’t been encouraged to do so by the City’s former leaders. A lawsuit followed and the trial court ruled for the family awarded the family damages. That case is now on appeal. For more, see our blog posts here and here.
Seeking to stop a legal “merry-go-round”
We filed our Petition for Writ of Certorari this week in Arrigoni Enterprises LLC v. Town of Durham. We’re trying to put an end, once and for all, to the legal nightmare far too many property owners face — the requirement that landowners exhaust state court litigation before they may sue in federal court to challenge oppressive land use regulations. Here after years of being given the run around by the Town of Durham, Connecticut, the land owner sued in state court. Having no success there — with the court not even reaching the merits — he brought a takings case in federal court, only to be told he should have filed the claim in state court. This nonsense happens all the time across the country, and it’s time that the Supreme Court inter this rule that it inadvertently created decades ago in a case called Williamson County. Our blog post is here.
State interference with commerce in other states
We’ve filed a this amicus brief in Energy & Environment Legal Institute v. Epel asking the United States Supreme Court to take up this case. Our brief, filed is being filed on behalf of PLF, the Cato Institute, National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center, and Reason Foundation.. In this case, Colorado has adopted a law that regulates how electricity sold within it is generated, regardless of where it’s generated or whether it has any impact on the quality of the electricity imported into the state. That law is an attempt to regulate electricity generation in other states — something that Colorado has no business trying to do. For more, see our blog post here.
Crony capitalism brief filed
We filed this amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to take up Sensational Smiles v. Mullen. Sensational Smiles is a small business that wants to do basic teeth whitening without having its technicians go to dental school for a full-blown dentist’s licenses. After all, this involves basically the shining of a bright UV light onto teeth, not pulling them out, drilling them out, or doing the sort of complicated procedures that dentists do. So why should Sensational Smile personnel get a dentists license? Because the Connecticut Department of Public Health wants to limit competition. That reason isn’t good enough for us or the constitution, so we’re supporting this case brought by the Institute for Justice. For more, see our blog here.
Testimony in support of school choice
We submitted this written testimony to Montana’s Department of Revenue urging not to adopt a rule that would totally eviscerate the state’s recently adopted school scholarship program. The Department has proposed a rule that would deny parents scholarship money if it were to be used to pay tuition at a religiously affiliated school. As our testimony indicates, this anti-religious rule not only hurts the state’s children, but it is also unconstitutional. For more, see our blog post here.
Another anti-arbitration ruling challenged
We filed this amicus brief in Sakkab v. Luxottica Retail North America on behalf of PLF and the National Federation of Independent Business asking the Ninth Circuit to reconsider its adoption of California’s hostile evasion of arbitration clauses. In this case,a Lenscrafter employee is trying to get around the arbitration clause in her contract by relying on California’s Private Attorney General Act which purports to allow litigation in the public interest against employers — regardless of the existence of an arbitration clause. For more, see our blog post here.
What to read next
One of the most fundamental rights of American citizens is the right to seek redress from illegal government action in a court of law. But the federal government has an arsenal of weapons it wields to deny or curtail this right. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the government’s attempts to stifle landowner suits challenging federal agency action under the Clean Water Act.