8 months ago

Weekly litigation report — March 11, 2017

By James S. Burling Vice President for Litigation

Going to sea to challenge a National Monument

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Lobsters thank Obama for new National Monument. Working fishermen and lobstermen are not so happy.

We filed this complaint challenging President Obama’s lame-duck designation of 5,000 square miles of ocean off the Massachusetts coast to be a new national monument under the Antiquities Act. We simply don’t think that an area in the ocean the size of Connecticut can qualify as a monument — which the Act describes as being the smallest possible area of land necessary to preserve an important resource. But the former President’s massive set-asides have stretched the Antiquities Act beyond its breaking point. And this isn’t an academic debate over an obscure statute. This monument designation will have a devastating impact on our clients — fishermen and lobstermen who will be forever locked out of valuable fishing grounds. For more on this, see our blog post here.

Seattle sued over bizarre rental law

Suspecting, without proof, that Seattle’s landlords are subconsciously employing “implicit bias” when selecting tenants, Seattle recently decided to take away from landlords their right to choose tenants. We’re helping the property owners fight back with this a legal challenge in Yim v. City of Seattle. While it is both wrong and illegal to discriminate against prospective tenants because of their race or religion, Seattle has gone a step further and is demanding that landlords always rent to the very first qualified tenant that walks through the door. This is supposed to eliminate “implicit bias.” But, this will actually force landlords to increase the income and job history requirements for prospective tenants, making it less likely that some minorities will qualify in the first place. And, as our blog post demonstrates, this law makes it very difficult for small landlords who live in their own buildings to be able to make sensible decisions as to who to invite into their buildings. More importantly, this law is an unconstitutional taking of the property owners’ valuable property right to determine to whom a residence will be leased to.

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