Weekly litigation report — July 9, 2016

The big news around PLF this week was, of course, the announcement of our next President and CEO Steven Anderson. We are all very excited to work with him in the near future. In the meantime, PLF attorneys have had another busy week in the nation’s courts.

Chilling free speech by labeling it as “professional conduct”

We filed a brief asking a full panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear our case on behalf of Leslie Young. Leslie Young is an advertising broker who is prohibited from listing homes for sale by owner on a website she runs. The State of Nebraska claims this makes here an unlicensed real estate broker and that she cannot advertise properties in that state. The Eighth Circuit held that there is no First Amendment problem because the state is regulating only “professional conduct,” not speech. For more on this, see our blog post here.

Property rights — Adverse decision on land use decision from Washington State

The Washington Court of Appeals issued this adverse opinion in Kinderace v. City of Sammamish. In Kinderace we argued on appeal that a landowner was entitled to a “reasonable use exception” to use a parcel and the denial of that exception was a taking. The City argues that because the owner was able to use a related subdivided parcel, created with a boundary line adjustment, there was no taking.

Economic liberty — Short-term rental ban

PLF filed an amicus brief supporting the rights of a Nashville family to rent and advertise their home. A Nashville ordinance limits the number of non-owner-occupied properties used for short-term rentals to only three percent of properties within a census tract, and completely prohibits any type of advertising of short-term rentals on-site.  PLF argues that both of these bans violate the Andersons’ rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

Property rights — Eminent domain

The infamous Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London, held that the United States Constitution does not prohibit government taking private property through eminent domain for the purpose of economic development. In response to Kelo, many states enacted laws and state constitutional reforms restricting the use of eminent domain under state law. Now before the Louisiana Supreme Court is a case asking whether the Louisiana Constitution forbids the taking of private property through eminent domain for the purpose of economic development. PLF’s brief argues that the Louisiana’ Constitution’s “Public Purpose Clause” should be construed narrowly, and should forbid the use of eminent domain for economic development.