Author: Brian T. Hodges
Dateline 1992. In a story entitled, "Local Land-Use Issues Attract Law Group," the Seattle Post Intelligencer reported that Pacific Legal Foundation was opening a regional office in the Pacific Northwest "to wage court battles over property rights and environmental regulations." The article concluded by quoting two prominent Seattle land-use attorneys who dismissed PLF’s efforts to protect private property rights as being "a Trojan horse" that was "clearly out of sync with the majority of the state." The attorneys dismissed PLF as adding nothing to the legal community, because Washington landowners had routinely failed in efforts to protect private property rights when challenging land-use restrictions. They claimed that simply adding two more attorneys to the mix is not going to do that much, quoting one of the attorneys as predicting that it was "doubtful the foundation will have many major victories."
Fast forward 18 years. The Seattle Post Intelligencer is no longer in print, lost to the virtual dustbin of internet-only publications. PLF, however, has maintained a successful office in the Pacific Northwest for almost two decades. And those doubtful victories? Well, PLF began to score major victories almost immediately, setting positive property rights precedent on issues such as vested rights, substantive due process, inverse condemnation, exactions, and growth control, and continues to win important cases in the state and federal courts.
Hindsight being 20/20, the story would have been more accurate if, instead of relying on the nearsighted conclusions of a couple of self-described "in sync," pro-regulation attorneys, it predicted the enormous impact that two attorneys can have when fighting to preserve fundamental constitutional rights in response to a massive expansion of government controls of private property.