President's weekly report — November 26, 2012

November 26, 2012 | By ROB RIVETT

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving Holiday.  We all have much to be thankful for.  Without further ado, here are the highlights of last week’s case developments.

Property Rights — Koontz in the United States Supreme Court

We filed our opening brief in Koontz v. St. Johns Water Management District in the United States Supreme Court.  Our bottom line is that government may not take private property, including money, from landowners in exchange for a permit unless the standards of Nollan and Dolan are met.  Oral argument will be on January 15.

Property Rights — Florida’s Bert J. Harris Act

We filed our amicus brief in The Town of Ponce Inlet v. Pacetta, LLC.   This is a pretty interesting case dealing with Florida’s Bert J. Harris Act, one of the most workable property rights protection statutes in the country.  Recognizing that the federal takings and due process doctrines were often inadequate to protect the legitimate rights of property owners, the State of Florida adopted the Bert J. Harris Act to provide a mechanism — first for negotiations and then, if all else fails, litigation, to protect the vested rights of property owners when government agencies deny the owners the right to use their property.  One interesting facet of the statute is its broadened definition of vested rights and due process.  Our amicus brief focused on this relationship.

Property Rights — Washington State

The United States Supreme Court turned down our petition for writ of certiorari in Samson v. City of Bainbridge Island.  This is the case where the State Supreme Court struck down a shoreline land use moratorium that severely restricted the use of shoreline property because the town had no authority to impose the moratorium.  The landowner then sought damages for a violation of its due process rights.  The Ninth Circuit ruled against the landowner and today the Supreme Court rejected the claim.

Environment — Endangered Species — Orca

In response to our petition, the Fish & Wildlife Service has agreed to consider delisting the Puget Sound Killer Whales.   This is a significant development, and we’re hopeful that the Service will follow the science that proves that these Killer Whales are not unique and should not be listed under the Endangered Species Act. 

Individual Rights — California’s Proposition 13

The Supreme Court has turned down a petition for review in Young v. Schmidt filed by pro-tax advocates who had unsuccessfully argued below that Proposition 13 is unconstitutional because it “revised” rather than “amended” the California Constitution when it calls for a 2/3 vote to raise taxes.  For more on this hyper-technical argument, see our  amicus brief which points out that the charge that Proposition 13 is an improper revision to the Constitution is wholly unfounded.  The Court of Appeal agreed with our position and today that decision stands.  Another win for taxpayers!