Supreme Court should review oppressive Seattle anti-landlord law

A Seattle law forces landlords to rent to whatever would-be tenant, however odious, is first in line. That’s a violation of fundamental rights and a compensable taking, argues the Cato Institute’s certiorari amicus brief in Yim v. City of Seattle [Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus, and Sam Spiegelman; earlier here, here, and here]


  • This could force a landlord to rent to a rapist, or someone with a history of not paying rent. These same people want landlords to also be liable for tenant behavior (if a tenant assaults another tenant or does drugs). In Seattle after the 08 crash the banks had lots of houses. They rented them, the renters paid a month or two then refused to pay and lived free for six months before moving on the the next rental. If you make it onerous and risky to be a landlord, big surprise, landlords turn them into condos or tear down in favor of office space. duh

  • CC

    Or jack up the rent to cover the risk premium.

    Either way, the renter pays in the end.

    Seattle has a fondness for electing the economically ignorant (Sawant et al) to the city council.

  • Socialism, always and everywhere, is the hope that human behavior will conform to the will of the state, rather than express individual identity and liberty.

    “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state”

    In different words, the real purpose of the socialist state is have enough force, to make everyone conform by choosing between (a) voluntary obedience to the state and (b) involuntary obedience to the state.

    Winston Smith: “We are the dead.”

    Voice from surveillance device hidden behind a picture on the wall: “You are the dead.”

  • How is this not a Heart of Atlanta Motel redux?

    • At least two reasons offhand: 1) the Seattle case has nothing to do with the reach of the Interstate Commerce Clause; 2) the Seattle ordinance on its face does not confine itself to prohibiting discrimination on grounds such as race or religion.

      No doubt there are other reasons too. Heart of Atlanta Motel does not stand for the proposition that courts will uphold anything couching itself as an anti-discrimination law.

      • Of course, the interstate commerce clause is irrelevant, since it is not a federal ordinance.

        I think the critical part of Heart of Atlanta, for the purpose of this case, deals with teh 5th Amendment takings argument. It seems as Heart of Atlanta made exactly the same argument that the landlords are making here.The Supreme Court held that there was no forcing a motel owner to accommodate guests he wished to exclude.

        I actually do think Heart of Atlatna stands for the proposition that the court will uphold legitimate anti-discrimination laws. It would be helpful for someone to draw the line. Obviously, Heart of Atlanta applies to race discrimination. Is that it? Or would it apply to other forms? Why or why not? I am looking for a limiting principle and do not see one in the case, perhaps there is one out there.

        I do not ask for answers from anyone here. However, I don’t think Heart of Atlanta can be disposed of as easily as Mr. Olson tries to do it.

  • Why anyone would want to be a landlord or small businessman in NYC, Seattle or San Francisco is beyond me. Being at the mercy of politicians with no private sector experience and overtly hostile to capitalism is no way to live