Brian T. Hodges

Senior Attorney Washington

Brian Hodges is a senior attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation, where he advocates for liberty-based solutions to the housing crisis and defending the right of individuals to make reasonable use of their property, free of unnecessary and oppressive regulation.

As part of his work at PLF, Brian authored the certiorari petition in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, a U.S. Supreme Court case that placed important constitutional limits on the government’s all-too-common practice of demanding that landowners fund public projects in exchange for a building permit—a practice that has fueled the skyrocketing rents and home prices across the nation. Brian was also on the litigation team that argued Knick v. Township of Scott to the U.S. Supreme Court, securing a homeowner’s right to bring her federal constitutional claims in a federal court.

Brian regularly publishes articles and lectures on property rights at law schools and conferences. His numerous legal publications include Are Critical Area Buffers Unconstitutional? Demystifying the Doctrine of Unconstitutional Conditions in 8 Seattle Journal of Environmental Law 1 (2017), in which he argues that permit approvals conditioned on the dedication of a conservation easement—like any other demand for money or property—must be subject to meaningful judicial scrutiny to ensure that the permit process is not being used to take private property. He also wrote an article updating the law of temporary takings in Will Arkansas Game & Fish Commission v. United States Provide a Permanent Fix for Temporary Takings? in 41 Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review 365 (2014).

Brian came to the liberty movement by an uncommon route: the arts. He played synthesizers and guitar in several Seattle-area bands before studying music composition and literature at the University of Washington. Through those experiences, 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.

Prior to joining PLF in 2006, Brian served as a judicial clerk at the Washington State Court of Appeals. After that, he worked for the Washington State Office of the Attorney General before entering private practice, where he focused on appellate advocacy for several years. While in private practice, Brian saw first-hand just how hard it is for an individual to stand up against the government (with its bottomless purse and army of lawyers)—even where the government’s actions plainly violate the Constitution. That, and his passion for the Constitution, motivated him to join PLF.

Brian earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Washington before graduating from Seattle University School of Law with honors in 2001. He lives a ferry ride away from Seattle, with his family and an easily distracted Australian Shepherd. He is an avid reader—primarily fantasy/sci-fi and memoirs from ’80s pop stars—and continues to write and perform music.

Riddick v. City of Malibu

Holding local California governments accountable for banning “granny flats”

Jason and Elizabeth Riddick live in Malibu, California, with their three children. Elizabeth’s mother, Renee Sperling, is aging with several disabilities, including immunodeficiency. The Riddicks seek to add an attached ADU onto their existing single-family home in order to provide Renee a safe and private place to live. The Riddicks’ m ...

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 ...

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September 17, 2021

The Orange County Register: Housing delayed is housing denied

This summer the Biden administration released a report that came to the same conclusion every administration since President Reagan's has reached: restrictive land-use regulation is one of the primary causes of the housing crisis. Across the country, too few homes are being built, and those that are built are often too expensive for the average ...

July 29, 2021

Still no place to live: The local barriers to the accessory dwelling unit revolution

ADUs are small homes located on the same lot as an existing single- or multi-family home, such as a garage apartment, a basement unit, or a backyard cottage. While ADUs can't solve the country's housing crisis, they are an important piece of a property rights and free market-based solution.   ...

July 19, 2021

The Chicago Tribune: Coach houses expand Chicago’s housing availability. The city should fully embrace them.

It's not often that Chicago's City Council passes a housing law that can benefit nearly every Chicagoan. But the city did exactly that when it took its first—albeit tepid—step toward lifting its half-century ban on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU's), or as they're more commonly known, coach houses or granny flats. In December last year, the ...

May 24, 2021

The Hill: To solve DC’s housing crisis, we need more than planning — we need to rethink zoning

With the D.C. Council set to vote on its massive update to the comprehensive plan in the coming months, it's high time that we ask the hard question whether we are using the right tools to address equity and affordability in housing. The problem isn't that zoning doesn't work. It's that zoning works all too ...

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 ...