Christina M. Martin

Senior Attorney |

Property Rights

When Christina was a kid, she dreamed that someday she would argue at the Supreme Court in defense of constitutional rights. But as early as high school, she discounted her dreams and thought she’d better aim for something more realistic.

Then in 2012, she took a risk, leaving her home in the Pacific Northwest to work for PLF. She moved to the opposite corner of the country—Florida—for the opportunity. That cross-country move, difficult as it was, was well worth it. Christina soon met her husband Daniel there. And in 2023, she lived her dream—arguing and winning Tyler v. Hennepin County in the U.S. Supreme Court.

In Tyler, the government had seized her elderly client Geraldine Tyler’s condo to collect a $15,000 debt, auctioned it for $40,000, and kept every penny. The Supreme Court unanimously held that taking more property than was owed violated the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause: “The taxpayer must render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but no more.”

The Supreme Court’s decision is common sense. But the lower courts had been split on the topic, and more than a dozen states were regularly confiscating homes over even small tax debts. In fact, in one Michigan case, PLF client Uri Rafaeli underpaid his property taxes by only $8. Yet the government took an entire home as payment for that tiny debt, sold it in a fire-sale auction for $24,500, and kept every cent. After he lost in lower courts, Christina represented him in the Michigan Supreme Court and won under the Michigan Constitution in 2020.

Mr. Rafaeli and Ms. Tyler’s cases were both part of PLF’s strategic Initiative to End Home Equity Theft. Christina launched and led that initiative until she won Tyler. Under her leadership, PLF challenged confiscatory tax statutes in six states, and PLF helped legislatures end the practice in several more states. Tyler should eventually prove the end of all these laws. But governments are often slow to change and so Christina and PLF are still enforcing Tyler.

Christina is passionate about property rights because she cares about people. Property rights are necessary for human flourishing, just as liberty is necessary for the pursuit of happiness.

Christina is frequently quoted by the press, and her articles have been published in a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Willamette Law Review. She earned her law degree from Ave Maria School of Law and her undergraduate degrees in physics and communication from the University of Washington.

When not working, Christina enjoys trying single-origin coffees, painting landscapes, and traveling with her husband.

Christina is a member of the bar only in the states of Washington, Oregon, and Florida.