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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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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Personal Liberties

Shock v. City of Seattle, Washington

Seattle imposes arbitrary and unconstitutional tax on achievement

The Washington State Constitution prohibits the government from levying an income tax on targeted segments of the population; any income tax must be uniformly applied to all citizens. Nonetheless, Seattle enacted an income tax targeting those making in excess of $250,000 per year with a 2.25% tax rate, setting a 0% rate for everyone else. Promoted as a “wealth tax,” the City’s income tax punishes achievement and success, while threatening poor and middle class families who could later fall subject to new city, county, and state taxes if Seattle’s gambit succeeds. PLF represents Seattle residents in a lawsuit challenging the city’s knowing violation of the state constitution.

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Property Rights

Kinderace v. City of Sammamish

Washington courts aggregate parcels to deprive property owners of compensation for regulatory takings

By means of a boundary line adjustment, Kinderace created a new 32,850 square foot parcel of which all but 83 square feet had been designated by the City of Sammamish as environmentally critical areas and buffers. The City denied Kinderace’s request for a reasonable use exception that would have allowed it to proceed with a proposed development project on the new parcel. Kinderace sued the City for a regulatory taking because the denial deprived it of all economically viable use of the parcel. The Washington courts rejected Kinderace’s claim, finding that it had received reasonable beneficial use of the property as part of a joint development with an adjoining parcel. PLF represented Kinderace in his petitions to higher courts to review the case.

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Post

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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Post

By Brian T. Hodges

Kelo strikes again

One of the key protections enshrined by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the requirement that any exercise of eminent domain must be for a valid public use.

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Op-Ed

Seattle’s Income Tax on ‘the Rich’ Has Collateral Damage: The Poor

Once again, a “progressive” plan turns out, in practice, to operate more like the Sheriff of Nottingham than Robin Hood.

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Post

By Brian T. Hodges

Seattle’s tax fight goes to court

Earlier this year, the City of Seattle shocked the people of Washington—indeed, many across the nation—when it decided to impose an income tax on so-called “high-earners” in direct defiance of the Washington State Supreme Court, which has repeatedly held that the state constitution’s uniformity clause prohibits targeted income taxes.

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Post

By Brian T. Hodges

Seattle’s income tax is cynical and unconstitutional

Earlier this week, PLF filed a motion for summary judgment in Shock v. City of Seattle, challenging the constitutionality of Seattle’s decision to impose an income tax on so-called “high … ›

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