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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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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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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By Brian T. Hodges

Article: are critical area buffers unconstitutional?

Today, the Seattle Journal of Environmental Law published my article, Are Critical Area Buffers Unconstitutional? Demystifying The Doctrine of Unconstitutional Conditions. Although the article focuses on developments in Washington state law, it contains arguments relevant to property rights practitioners elsewhere. For example, the article explains why a demand that a landowner dedicate a “buffer area” takes valuable property rights. It also dispels the mistaken belief that conditions imposed pursuant to generally applicable legislation should be subject less rigorous scrutiny than all other conditions.

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By Brian T. Hodges

Seattle’s tax on achievement is a Trojan Horse that threatens the poor and middle class

One of the things that makes Washington’s legal landscape so unique is that the state constitution was drafted by people who, having just witnessed the Civil War, were wary of state and federal government. As a result, our constitution provides many protections rarely found elsewhere in the country, such as a provision prohibiting the government from targeting political minorities to bear uneven tax burdens. Specifically, Article VII, Section I of the Washington State Constitution states that “all taxes shall be uniform upon the same class of property … The word ‘property’ as used herein shall mean and include everything, whether tangible or intangible, subject to ownership.”

For nearly a century, the Washington’s Supreme Court has repeatedly held that income is property and, therefore, the constitution prohibits targeted income taxes. And all attempts to change this constitutional provision through the courts, legislature, and via popular initiative have failed. Indeed, our state’s top-to-bottom economy has benefitted from this constitutional barrier to targeted income taxes, attracting large and high-paying employers.

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By Brian T. Hodges

Should a business owner recover economic damages when the government condemns his property?

In a brief filed earlier today, PLF attorneys urge the US Supreme Court to answer this important question concerning the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee that property shall not be taken without payment of just compensation

In the past, the US Supreme Court instructed that a dispossessed owner must be put in “as good position pecuniarily as he would have occupied if his property had not been taken” United States v Miller (1943) So, although business losses are presumed to be non-recoverable due to the fact that they are often collateral to the taking, the Court has awarded economic losses when a government condemnation action directly affects a business

The Louisiana

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By Brian T. Hodges

Should legislative property demands be exempt from constitutional scrutiny?

The answer to that question seems rather obvious to property owners—if the government demands that you give up a portion of your property in exchange for a development permit, why should it matter what particular branch is making the demand? After all, the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution broadly prohibits the government from taking private property without payment of just compensation, not just some low-level bureaucrat perched behind the permit desk Thus legislative exactions—just like all other exactions—are subject to heightened constitutional scrutiny under the “essential nexus” and “rough proportionality” tests established by Nollan v California Coastal Commission (1987) and Dolan v City of Tigard (1992)

Case

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