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.

Donnelly v. City of San Marino

Holding local California governments accountable for banning “granny flats”

Accessory dwelling units, better known as “in-law apartments” or “granny flats,” have long been recognized as a valuable and essential component of California’s response to the state’s worsening housing shortage. So essential in fact, state law establishes a right to build ADUs, severely limiting local government ...

Freedom Foundation v. Washington Dept. of Ecology

State agency Scrooge violates Santa’s First Amendment rights

Each year around the holidays, Washington-based Freedom Foundation sends staff members to the lobbies of state agency buildings. These staffers—dressed as Santa—hand out leaflets that explain state employees’ right to opt out of union dues. Allowed by most agencies, the Washington Department of Ecology in 2017 instead prohibited the leafl ...

Yim v. City of Seattle

Seattle wages unconstitutional war on landlords

In a 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” rule requires landlords to rent to the first financially-qualified tenant who applies. And the “Fair Chance Housing Ordinance” forbids landlord ...

Property Rights lawyer Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania

Supreme Court affirms that property rights are among Americans' most important constitutional rights.

In 2013, government agents forced Rose Knick to allow public access to a suspected gravesite on her farmland. Rose sued over the unconstitutional property taking. But a federal court refused to hear her federal claim citing the 1985 Supreme Court decision Williamson County. Rose has asked the Court to overturn this precedent so property rights are ...

Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group

Adverse decision in case supporting defendants’ right to a jury trial

In 2011, the federal America Invents Act authorized the formation of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), a panel of three Administrative Law Judges who review the validity of patent claims. But defendants who are accused of patent infringement are increasingly asking the PTAB to use these reviews to invalidate the patent at issue, which in tu ...

Kunath v. City of Seattle

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 ...

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July 22, 2020

Strengthening property rights will improve affordable housing in America’s cities

Our nation is in the midst of a severe and ever-worsening housing crisis. For decades, we have seen far too few homes being built. And those homes that are built are often too expensive—particularly in major urban centers, where poor and middle-class families increasingly find themselves priced out of homes and apartments located near the ...

June 22, 2020

The Hill: Local governments are undermining state laws that encourage ‘granny flats’

It's well known that California is in the midst of a housing crisis that grows more severe all the time. For decades, we have seen too few homes built, and those that are built are too expensive. The poor and middle class suffer the most from the housing shortage, increasingly finding themselves priced out of ...

August 07, 2019

Seattle can’t ignore the state constitution for a ‘wealth tax’

In many respects, Washington is a good place to live. It's one of the few states in the nation where residents pay zero state income tax, and the state constitution boasts strong protections for taxpayers. But even constitutional protections haven't stopped Seattle politicians' seemingly incessant tax grabs. In 2017, Seattle tried hiking the overta ...

December 05, 2018

PLF asks the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit Penn Central

Forty years ago, in Penn Central Transp.  Co. v. City of New York (1978), the U.S. Supreme Court explained that regulatory takings cases are "essentially ad hoc, factual inquiries" wherein courts are instructed to consider a number of case specific factors, including "the economic impact of the regulation on the claimant;" "the extent to which ...

September 19, 2018

Do agency proceedings strip us of our constitutional rights?

The tendency for courts to broadly defer to agency decisions frustrates the judiciary's core function as the adjudicative branch of government. Such deference also frustrates individual rights by sweeping constitutional guarantees under the rug. Take, for example, Washington State's Growth Management Hearing Board. The legislature created the agenc ...

August 07, 2018

This monkey got his day in court. Property owners still can’t.

Why should a monkey receive more protection from the federal courts than a property owner? Robert Thomas of inversecondemnation.com asks that question in a poignant and humorous friend of the court brief filed with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of PLF client, Rose Mary Knick. A bit of background is necessary. ...

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