Do something nice for your neighbors this Christmas and refrain from taking them to court. An attorney who resides in Hayden, Idaho, has gotten into “a miserable four-year war with his neighborhood” over holiday displays at his house [Daniel Walters, Inlander]
- Playlist: songs about eminent domain and takings, property law and the road [Robert H. Thomas, Inverse Condemnation]
- In-depth look into problems that develop when title to land is held as “heirs’ property,” leaving a dangerous collective tangle in place of individual right and duty [David Slade and Angie Jackson, Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.)]
- Dispute over remains of two dinosaurs locked in combat 66 million years ago, lately unearthed in Garfield County, Mont. and extremely valuable, hinges on whether their fossils are “minerals”; Ninth Circuit says they are under Montana law [AP via Molly Brady (“property professor dream hypo”), Murray v. BEJ Minerals]
- “Government Should Compensate Property Owners for Flood Damage It Facilitated” [Ilya Shapiro and Patrick Moran on Cato amicus petition for certiorari in St. Bernard Parish v. United States] “Texas Court Rules Deliberate Flooding of Private Property by State Government in Wake of Hurricane Harvey can be a Taking” [Ilya Somin]
- Constituent-group politics continues to shape use of federal lands, to the detriment of its economic value [Gary Libecap, Regulation and related working paper]
- Caution, satire: Facebook parody of super-intrusive, restrictive, and meddlesome HOA [East Mountain West View Home Owners Association]
The state of Mississippi insists that a company called Vizaline, by selling a program that uses satellite imagery to translate “metes and bounds” language into polygonal lines on a map, is practicing land surveying without a license, and should be made to shut down and refund all money it has earned in the state. Attorneys from the Institute for Justice say that virtual land measurement is not only not part of an occupation subject to licensure, but is a form of expression and communication and subject to First Amendment protections. [Cyrus Farivar, ArsTechnica]
The great scholar Richard Pipes, known above all for his work on Russia and the Bolshevik Revolution, has died at 94. In 1999 I favorably reviewed his book on property as an institution, Property and Freedom: The Story of How through the Centuries Private Ownership Has Promoted Liberty and the Rule of Law. I’ve got a new post at Cato pulling together a few highlights of his work on property, along with miscellaneous links.
‘It’s my toy’ – property law
‘You promised me’ – contract law
‘He hit me first’ – criminal law
‘Daddy said I could’ – constitutional law
— the late Harold Berman of Harvard Law School, via John McGinnis, Law and Liberty.
Some others, via social media:
‘Mama said NO’- Supreme Court decision — Cathy Maddox on Twitter
‘Last week you said’ – case law — Dave Ferguson on Twitter
‘Stop repeating everything I say’ – copyright law — John Althouse Cohen
‘Make him turn it down’ — nuisance law
- YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) movement in San Francisco, other cities says build more housing to tame housing costs [Alex Tabarrok] Zoning laws sometimes respond to tiny-house movement, and sometimes don’t [Curbed]
- Federalist Society convention panel on Justice Scalia’s property rights jurisprudence with John Echeverria, James W. Ely, Jr., Roderick Hills, Jr., Adam Laxalt, Ilya Somin, Judge Allison Eid moderating;
- Your regulated residence: “Santa Monica Moves to Make All New Homes Net-Zero Energy” [Mental Floss]
- “King County, Washington, Caught Digging Through Residents’ Trash” [Christian Britschgi/Reason; see also on Seattle composting regulations]
- “EPA to big cities: Stop killing rats with dry ice” [Aamer Madhani, USA Today]
- “Policing for profit in private environmental enforcement” [Jonathan Wood; Clean Water Act citizen suits]
Once again some advocates are advancing what they see as gun rights at the expense of the general rights of private property and contract. This time it’s a new state law that “allows any Tennessean with a valid gun permit to sue a property owner in the event of injury or death provided the incident occurred while in a gun-free zone.” More specifically, the “legislation places responsibility on the business or property owner of the gun-free area to protect the gun owner from any incidents that occur with any ‘invitees,’ trespassers and employees found on the property, as well as vicious and wild animals and ‘defensible man-made and natural hazards.'” The bill excludes situations where the law itself imposes the status of “gun-free zone,” but includes situations in which a Tennessee business adopts the status in order to follow the policy of its corporate owner or franchisor.
Traditional Anglo-American law grants to a property owner as a matter of course not only the right to exclude guns, but also to ask of customers and other invitees that, as a condition of their visit, they agree to assume the risk of some “defensible hazards” contemplated by the law, such as harm occasioned by roaming wild animals. Is it too much to ask that gun advocates promote the actual rights prescribed by the Second Amendment against government infringement — which certainly could use promotion right now — rather than infringe traditional individual property and contract liberties by inventing spurious new gun “rights”? [Tennessean via Bearing Arms] Earlier on laws restricting property owners’ rights to set rules against guns in parking lots here, here, here, here, related Roger Pilon at Cato, and, also with coverage of “off-duty conduct” as a protected class in discrimination law, here.
- Government badly messes up pension arrangements for its own workers. So why are California and other states muscling their way into provision of private pensions? [Steven Greenhut, City Journal]
- Unconstitutional doings at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) should not be ratified after the fact [Ilya Shapiro and Jayme Weber, Cato]
- Temple-Inland, Inc. v. Cook: federal court rules Delaware practices on unclaimed property unconstitutional [Alston & Bird, my recent]
- “In praise of debt” [David Henderson] “The credit card companies were there for me” [same]
- May be wrong: Prof. Bainbridge on why U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is off base in proposals to put workers on company boards, tinker with executive pay (related here and here);
- “The Glass-Steagall Rorschach Test” [Mark Calabria, earlier]
While others chase fictional creatures, some J.D.s chase questions with more tangible implications: does placing an augmented reality object on someone’s land or right of way interfere with their property rights? And if someone gets injured wandering around, is Nintendo/Niantic’s Pokemon Go to blame for creating an attractive nuisance? [Keith Lee, Associates Mind]
I’ve got a new post at Cato at Liberty noting that Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, in a concurrence this spring, appear to be inviting a constitutional challenge to states’ administration of escheat (unclaimed property) law on due process grounds. [More on Taylor et al. v. Yee from Daniel Fisher at Forbes] While the immediate questions posed would likely be whether states are doing too little to notify owners and using too short a period of idleness (three years is becoming common), the fact patterns might conceivably implicate some of the other problems noted by businesses on the receiving end of these laws, which we discussed back in 2013 (more): creative redefinitions of unclaimed property and outside “auditors” incentivized by contingency fees to overreach in assessments.
Reflecting widespread business discontent, the U.S. Chamber has addressed the issue in a series of papers and its publications have covered problems in states like Illinois, as well as in California as well as profiling the firms that specialize in these collections, which in some cases have filed qui tam (bounty-hunting) suits for a share of the proceeds.
On Delaware in particular see the Wall Street Journal (more), Forbes, and Delaware State News. And the Wilmington News-Journal has published an extensive investigation of the escheat contractors’ ties to the Delaware political class.