Skip to comments.Supreme Court sides with government in second land rights case
Posted on 06/20/2005 3:06:09 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court said Monday that people who lose state lawsuits claiming the government improperly took their property cannot count on federal courts for help.
Land rights is a major issue at the high court this year, and so far the justices have made it tougher for people to win lawsuits claiming that local and state laws amount to an unconstitutional "taking."
The biggest of three cases dealing with government authority to seize properties will be decided in the next week, before the Supreme Court begins a three-month break.
In Monday's decision, the justices ruled against a historic San Francisco hotel that wanted to convert rooms - previously designated for permanent residents - to accommodate tourists.
The city had restrictions on hotel changes, as part of an ordinance intended to preserve housing for the poor, disabled and elderly.
When the San Remo Hotel was ordered to pay $567,000, it sued in state court and narrowly lost at the California Supreme Court in 2002. Then-California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown supported the hotel and wrote a strongly worded dissent, used by some senators in opposing her recent elevation to a federal appeals court.
"Theft is theft even when the government approves of the thievery," she wrote. "Turning a democracy into a kleptocracy does not enhance the stature of the thieves, it only diminishes the legitimacy of the government."
There were no harsh words in Monday's 9-0 Supreme Court ruling that found the 62-room hotel could not pursue a federal case because state courts had already addressed all the issues.
"This is a big victory for local governments," said Nicole Garnett, a Notre Dame law professor.
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, in a rare admission, wrote in a concurring opinion that he and his colleagues may have made a mistake 20 years ago when they told people in such property fights that they must exhaust state court options before filing federal suits.
Rehnquist, who has cancer and is expected to retire soon, seemed to encourage a challenger to step forward and give the Supreme Court an opportunity to reconsider.
Joined by three other conservative justices, Rehnquist said, "Further reflection and experience lead me to think that the justifications for its state-litigation requirement are suspect, while its impact on takings plaintiffs is dramatic."
Eric Claeys, a former Rehnquist clerk who is now a law professor at Saint Louis University, said state court fights in takings claims can last for years. In some states, it would be quicker and better strategy to go straight to federal court, if the Supreme Court allows it, he said.
The ruling was the second in a land rights case. Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that Hawaii did not overstep its authority in putting caps on the rent paid by dealer-run gas stations, part of an effort to control gas costs.
The one pending land rights case will determine when local officials may take people's homes and businesses through eminent domain to make way for economic development projects like shopping malls. The government is likely to win that case too.
The Monday case is San Remo Hotel v. City and County of San Francisco, 04-340.
On the Net:
Supreme Court: http://www.supremecourtus.gov/
I sure as heck hope not.
"The government is likely to win that case too."
All hail Juggernaut!
I saw on the TV show 'Dateline' last night that it is legal to purchase .50 caliber long rifles in all 50 states (although California may be outlawing them soon). They aren't cheap, but a person could probably find an affordable used one at a gun show.
Sorry to go off topic.
I don't know why I thought of this.
The Supreme Socialists strike again!
"When the San Remo Hotel was ordered to pay $567,000, it sued in state court and narrowly lost at the California Supreme Court in 2002. Then-California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown supported the hotel and wrote a strongly worded dissent"
All the more reason President Bush should consider her for the eventual opening in the Supreme Court (after Rehnquist). C'mon, Sandra O'Connor, call it a Day already.
We are losing our freedom and our Constitution. The black robed dictators have decided that the government need not respect the Constitution nor the rights of the people.
And yet, we keep voting for the same two tired parties that appointed the judges who have no respect for Constitutional limits on government power. But we sit here and pat each other on the back for voting for half of the problem.
"There might be legal precedent! Of course, Landsnatching . . . land, land, Land, see Snatch. Ah, Hailie vs. United Sates. Hailie: 7, United States: nothing. You see, it can be done!"
Each end of the "pooh stick" is still the same stick.
You are correct, the end is not in sight because we keep allowing them power over us and "they" limit our choices.
Did ANYONE expect anything less from the USSC?!
That's a mighty big Catch 22, isn't it? IANAL, but maybe what will come out of this is that when fighting government theft on a state level, the careful plaintiff will leave out one or two possible avenues of argument in order to leave open an avenue of appeal to the Feds - or maybe I'm misinterpreting the legal effect of this decision...
If they approve of economic takings, then there no longer is such a thing as personal property in America. The only ones who can really own anything are the wealthiest corporations.
As usual, you're left scratching your head after reading a story by AP scribblers, whose idiot quotient barely rises above a crawling slug.
Rehnquist said, "Further reflection and experience lead me to think that the justifications for its state-litigation requirement are suspect, while its impact on takings plaintiffs is dramatic."
What the hell is that supposed to mean? I bet a few preceeding sentences have some relevance to this non-sequitur, but AP deigns to not give us a clue. Maybe Rehnquist was hitting the sauce and his pants dropped to his knees while chugging back that last gulp and he had to write fast. Who knows?
Let's quote more AP garbage: "The Supreme Court said Monday that people who lose state lawsuits claiming the government improperly took their property cannot count on federal courts for help.'"
Oh, really. So in this ruling the USSC has removed itself from all land disputes involving states. Well, hello federalism, right? States rule...absolutely.
More likely the USSC ruled that in this instance the San Remo Hotel must:
1) pay $567,000 because it reserved rooms for the poor, disabled and elderly.
2) pay $567,000 because it did not want to reserve rooms for the poor, disabled and elderly.
3) Pay $567,000 because it did not pay off the socialists in Frisco.
I guess I'm just tired out from trying to read any sense into a slug trail left by AP nitwits.
I thought this might interest you.
This is the last generation of free men in this nation. The future of our children has already been sealed. The guns will be the last to go.
Well, sarg, I had the head dude at Schute, Mihaly & Weinberg of SFO, the leading GANG-GREEN law firm in these parts, tell me that the Federal Courts were stronger on property rights than the CA courts, even though article 1, Section 1 of the CA constitution is way, WAY stronger than the piddly little fifth amendment on the USCON!!!
Yeh, the good old fifth...nor shall private property be taken unless a kangaroo rat has an interest, in which case you will provide a de facto government nature reserve at no cost to the imperial government, serf. And don't forget to pay your royal annual tribute.
When it comes to property rights, this court gets its legal bearings by sniffing European socialist shorts.
And a great dissent it was. Some snippets:
[P]rivate property, already an endangered species in California, is now entirely extinct in San Francisco. The City and County of San Francisco has implemented a neo-feudal regime where the nominal owner of property must use that property according to the preferences of the majorities that prevail in the political process--or, worse, the political powerbrokers who often control the government independently of majoritarian preferences.... San Francisco has redefined the American dream. Where once government was closely constrained to increase the freedom of individuals, now property ownership is closely constrained to increase the power of government. Where once government was a necessary evil because it protected private property, now private property is a necessary evil because it funds government programs....Source: San Remo Hotel v. S.F. (Cal. Supreme Court, 3/4/02)
The express purpose of the [Hotel Conversion Ordinance] was to preserve the Citys stock of low-income residential housing by requiring hotel owners to continue leasing their rooms as residences, or to replace those residential units if they chose to convert the rooms to tourist use. Obviously, the [Ordinance] is facially unconstitutional. If a person took my car and asked a ransom for its return, he or she would be guilty of theft. But what if the City, seeking to provide transportation to the poor, orders me to operate an informal carpool, or if I prefer, to buy the City a replacement car? When presented with a similar hypothetical at oral argument, the San Francisco City Attorney declared such a rule a mere regulation of use. I disagree. The essence of private property is the right to use that property as one sees fit and for ones own advantage. The police power permits the government to regulate that use so as to promote health, safety, and the general welfare, but it does not permit the government to achieve its social agenda by ordering a political minority to dedicate its property to the benefit of a group the government wishes to favor....
The government, in effect, says: We have the power; therefore, pay us to leave you alone. By any measure, that is extortion. Moreover, it turns the takings clause on its head. Instead of the government having to pay compensation to property owners, the government now wants property owners to compensate it to get back the fair value of property the government took away through regulation....
This is not a tough case. Here, property unquestionably has been taken. No matter the analysis, the facts of this case come down to one thing--the City and County of San Francisco has expropriated the property and resources of a few hundred hotel owners in order to ameliorate--off budget and out of sight of the taxpayer--its housing shortage. In short, this ordinance is...expressly designed to shift wealth from one group to another by the raw exercise of political power, and as such, it is a per se taking requiring compensation....
[T]he City has replaced taxation and the provision of public services with a regulation that orders certain people to use their private property to do the governments work. If the relevant case law is sparse, it is only because no public agency has ever been so bold....
[I]t might be perfectly legitimate for the City to help the low-income residents of San Francisco, but it may not do so at the expense of some small class of persons simply by legislating a transfer of property rights. Of course, providing assistance to low-income residents of the community incrementally benefits all members of the community both by removing the blight of homelessness and by representing a general moral good, but here the burden of this common benefit falls so disproportionately on 500 business owners in a city of 776,700 residents that careful judicial scrutiny is warranted.... [I]t simply stretches the police power too far to suggest that the City is somehow regulating the use of property for the common advantage when it redistributes wealth by ordering a political minority to dedicate its property to the benefit of another group. The police power can no more be used in this way than it could be used to order a rich man to give a beggar a dime. Here, the primary beneficiary of the regulation is not the common advantage but the low-income individuals who obtain the inexpensive housing. Laudable as that goal might be, the takings clause precludes the government from achieving the goal by police power regulation....
[T]he City has essentially said to 500 unlucky hotel owners: We lack the public funds to fill the need for affordable housing in San Francisco, so you should solve the problem for us by using your hotels to house poor people. The City might as well have ordered the owners of small grocery stores to give away food at cost....
Once again a majority of this court has proved that If enough people get together and act in concert, they can take something and not pay for it. (ORourke, Parliament of Whores) But theft is still theft. Theft is theft even when the government approves of the thievery. Turning a democracy into a kleptocracy does not enhance the stature of the thieves; it only diminishes the legitimacy of the government. Like Justice Rehnquist, I see no reason why [constitutional protections or property rights] should be relegated to the status of a poor relation. The right to express ones individuality and essential human dignity through the free use of property is just as important as the right to do so through speech, the press, or the free exercise of religion. Nevertheless, the property right is now--in California, at least--a hollow one. I dissent and hope the plaintiffs find a more receptive forum in the federal courts.
More FReepers would be well advised to learn from your fine example!!!
Count me among your admirerers!!!
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