Yesterday, the Institute for Justice filed an amicus brief in support of Dan Goldstein’s case, which has been submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. Goldstein argues that the even though the state of New York’s claims that the eminent domain takings in Brooklyn are for a “public use,” the true beneficiary of the takings is the developer. Goldstein’s case has, so far, been dismissed by judges who claim they have no power to even look into whether the state of New York’s claims of “public use” are legitimate.
From IJ’s press release:
IJ’s brief urges the Court to defend a citizen’s right to have a judge examine whether a city’s claim of “public use” is actually public use or merely a pretext for transferring property from one private entity to another for the latter’s benefit, as is the case in Brooklyn. IJ’s seeks to stop the subversion of the Fifth Amendment and the unconstitutional seizure of homes and small businesses.
“Although Kelo clearly expanded the definition of “public use” to include economic development, the Supreme Court was also clear that government cannot take property simply for the private benefit of another party even if the government claims it is for public use,” said Dana Berliner, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice. “The court needs to assert that public use is more than just a formality for cities to manipulate to mean whatever they choose.”
IJ’s brief asks that the court “clarify that Kelo did not remove the federal courts’ power to hear and adjudicate—on their merits—claims of bad-faith or pretextual takings under the U.S. Constitution.” Although cities may claim “public use,” Goldstein’s case questions whether a private citizen has a chance to dispute in court a city’s public use claim when there may be clear evidence to the contrary.
According to the brief, there is confusion in the lower courts as to whether there is even any role for the judiciary to examine whether a city’s public use claim is true and reflects the actual purpose of an invocation of eminent domain for economic development.
More on Goldstein v. Pataki at Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.