Brian T. Hodges

Senior Attorney

Washington

Brian Hodges is a Senior Attorney at PLF’s Pacific Northwest office in Bellevue, Washington. Brian focuses his practice on defending of the right of individuals to make reasonable use of their property, free of unnecessary and oppressive regulations.

In 2013, Brian second-chaired Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District before the U.S. Supreme Court, a case that placed constitutional limits on the government’s common practice of demanding that landowners fund unrelated public projects in exchange for a permit approval. And in the 2008 case, Citizens’ Alliance for Property Rights v. Sims, Brian successfully challenged a Seattle-area ordinance that required all rural property owners to dedicate at least half their land as conservation areas as a mandatory condition of any new development without any showing that rural development would impact the environment.

Brian graduated from Seattle University of Law in 2001 with honors. After which, he served as a judicial clerk at the Washington State Court of Appeals, then entered private practice where he focused on appellate advocacy for several years before joining PLF in 2006.

Brian came to the liberty movement by an uncommon route:  the arts. Brian played guitar and keyboards in several Seattle-area bands before eventually studying music composition and literature at the University of Washington—earning two Bachelor’s Degrees and a Master of Arts. Through that experience, he came to firmly believe that the goal of art—indeed, the goal of any creative ambition—is to maximize individual freedom and expression, tempered by personal responsibility and ownership, rather than outside oversight or arbitrary restriction. Carrying that philosophy into law school naturally led him to fight for individual rights.

Brian regularly publishes articles and lectures on property rights at law schools and legal conferences. He continues to write music and short fiction.

Brian Hodges is a Senior Attorney at PLF’s Pacific Northwest office in Bellevue, Washington. Brian focuses his practice on defending of the right of individuals to make reasonable use of their property, free of unnecessary and oppressive regulations.

In 2013, Brian second-chaired Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District before the U.S. Supreme Court, a case that placed constitutional limits on the government’s common practice of demanding that landowners fund unrelated public projects in exchange for a permit approval. And in the 2008 case, Citizens’ Alliance for Property Rights v. Sims, Brian successfully challenged a Seattle-area ordinance that required all rural property owners to dedicate at least half their land as conservation areas as a mandatory condition of any new development without any showing that rural development would impact the environment.

Brian graduated from Seattle University of Law in 2001 with honors. After which, he served as a judicial clerk at the Washington State Court of Appeals, then entered private practice where he focused on appellate advocacy for several years before joining PLF in 2006.

Brian came to the liberty movement by an uncommon route:  the arts. Brian played guitar and keyboards in several Seattle-area bands before eventually studying music composition and literature at the University of Washington—earning two Bachelor’s Degrees and a Master of Arts. Through that experience, he came to firmly believe that the goal of art—indeed, the goal of any creative ambition—is to maximize individual freedom and expression, tempered by personal responsibility and ownership, rather than outside oversight or arbitrary restriction. Carrying that philosophy into law school naturally led him to fight for individual rights.

Brian regularly publishes articles and lectures on property rights at law schools and legal conferences. He continues to write music and short fiction.

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Property Rights

Yim v. City of Seattle

Seattle wages unconstitutional war on landlords

In a noble but misguided effort to combat racial discrimination, the City of Seattle passed a series of ordinances forbidding local landlords from choosing their own tenants. A “first in time” ordinance requires landlords to rent to the first financially-qualified tenant who applies. And the “Fair Chance Housing Ordinance” forbids landlords from considering applicants’ criminal histories. PLF represents several small-scale landlords who are denied their constitutionally-guaranteed choice to decide who to allow on their private property.

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Property Rights

Knick v. Scott Township, Pennsylvania

Supreme Court to review federal courts’ “second class” treatment of property rights

Rose Mary Knick owns a quiet, 90-acre, stone-fenced farm in rural eastern Pennsylvania. But the local town government claims that her property might have an old burial ground. According to a local ordinance, that means she must allow unrestricted public access to her private property. In other words, anyone can invade Ms. Knick’s property any time of day to visit a few stones the Township claims may mark an old gravesite.

Ms. Knick tried to challenge this violation of her constitutionally protected property rights in state and federal courts, who claimed they could not hear her suit, effectively shutting the doors to justice. PLF argues that property owners are entitled to their day in federal courts when governments violate their federal rights without paying for it. The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear Rose Mary’s case later this year.

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Personal Liberties

Oil States v. Greene’s Energy

The Executive Branch cannot deprive criminal defendants of their Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial

In 2011, the federal America Invents Act authorized the formation of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). On the request of any third party, this panel of three Administrative Law Judges reviews the validity of one or more claims of a patent after the patent has been granted. Rather than raising patent invalidity as a defense, defendants are increasingly petitioning the PTAB in an effort to invalidate the patent at issue. The problem is that patents are private property rights that cannot be extinguished by an executive branch tribunal without a jury. The Supreme Court will decide whether this administrative tribunal is constitutional and PLF’s amicus brief argues that it is not.

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By Brian T. Hodges

Can an administrative agency strip you of your right to put on evidence?

In Washington state, property owners who want to challenge the constitutionality of a new land-use or critical area restriction must first try their case to the Growth Management Hearings Board—an … ›

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By Brian T. Hodges

Is property a fundamental right?

The answer to that question should be simple. After all, the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution protects “life, liberty, or property” without qualification. And, for nearly a century, … ›

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By Brian T. Hodges

SCOTUS avoids the administrative elephant in the room

Earlier this week, the US Supreme Court issued its decision in Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC, upholding by a 7-2 margin the inter partes review … ›

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By Brian T. Hodges

Washington limits the reach of the public trust doctrine

The Washington Supreme Court, today, issued its final decision in the public trust case, Chelan Basin Conservancy v. GBI Holding Co.  Broadly stated, the public trust doctrine holds that lands … ›

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By Brian T. Hodges

Washington Supreme Court will not hear important property rights case

Earlier this week, the Washington State Supreme Court denied review of the very troubling appellate decision in Olympic Stewardship Foundation v State of Washington Environmental and Land Use Hearings Office, in which PLF submitted an amicus brief The appellate decision upheld a Jefferson County ordinance that requires all shoreline property owners to dedicate a 150-foot buffer as a mandatory condition on any new development The opinion also upholds a requirement that certain property owners dedicate a public access easement across their property—a requirement identical to the one struck down by the US Supreme Court in Nollan v California Coastal Commission

To reach those results, the appellate court

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Post

By Brian T. Hodges

PLF urges the High Court to clarify the rule for interpreting split decisions

The U.S. Supreme Court is deciding some of the most important (and divisive) legal questions with fractured decisions, leaving many to question whether those cases stand for any one legal rule.

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