Harmon v. Kimmel – Pacific Legal Foundation Amicus Brief

 

No. 11-496
In the
Supreme Court of the United States
Ë
JAMES D. HARMON, JR., and JEANNE HARMON,
Petitioners,
v.
JONATHAN L. KIMMEL, in his official capacity
as Member and Chair of the New York City Rent
Guidelines Board, City of New York; DARRYL C.
TOWNS, in his official capacity as Commissioner,
New York State Homes and Community Renewal,
Respondents.
Ë
On Petition for Writ of Certiorari
to the United States Court of Appeals
for the Second Circuit
Ë
BRIEF AMICUS CURIAE OF
PACIFIC LEGAL FOUNDATION,
CATO INSTITUTE, AND SMALL PROPERTY
OWNERS OF SAN FRANCISCO INSTITUTE
IN SUPPORT OF PETITIONERS JAMES D.
HARMON, JR., and JEANNE HARMON

New York Rent Control Headed for Supreme Court?

 

November 30, 2011 RS Radford, Pacific Legal Foundation
Of all the failed policies of Progressive-era politics, none is more egregious than rent control.  And nowhere is the failure of rent control more obvious than in New York City, where high-salaried professionals and rock stars often enjoy a legal “entitlement” to pay rent amounting to a tiny fraction of the value of their apartments.


Originally conceived as class legislation, rent control in New York no longer even pits the haves against the have-nots.  It rewards the politically savvy, the well-connected, and the lucky, at the expense of both large and small property owners who make the mistake of providing housing to those who need a place to live.  New York courts have long turned a blind eye to the economic insanity and blatant injustice of rent control, reasoning that it’s within the purview of the legislature to enact insane and unjust policies, so long as due process is followed.

Oops, check that.  According to a recent decision of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, due process is no longer required.  In fact, a property owner who tried to argue that New York City’s rent regulations violated his due process rights was bounced out of court on the grounds that since (by the Second Circuit’s standards) rent control is not an unconstitutional “taking” of property under the Fifth Amendment, it is not even possible to allege that the law is a due process violation under the Fourteenth Amendment!

The case, Harmon v. Kimmel (formerly Harmon v. Markus) has now been taken to the United States Supreme Court.  Pacific Legal Foundation, joined by the Cato Institute and Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute, has filed a brief supporting Jim Harmon in his quest for justice.  You can see the brief here, and read Cato’s take on it here.  Prominent law professor Richard Epstein has also weighed inon the Harmon case.

Surprisingly, the Supreme Court has never come down with a blanket statement concerning the constitutionality of rent control.  It has upheld rent regulations under particular circumstances (wartime emergencies, for example), and declined to strike down others because of problems with the legal theories under which they were challenged.  It should not be unreasonable to expect the Court at least to direct the Second Circuit to listen to Jim Harmon’s due process argument.


Foundation Files Brief in Supreme Court in Challenge to Rent Control Law

 

Atlantic Legal News Archive
Monday, November 21, 2011
The Foundation partnered with the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence to file an amicus brief in support of petitioner in Harmon v. Kimmel, a case challenging the New York City Rent Stabilization Law as a taking of property in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. The lower federal courts had dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the rent stabilization law was merely a regulation of rent, not a “physical taking” of the Harmons’ property. The Harmons, husband and wife, own a brownstone building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan; they live in one apartment in the brownstone, and rent six other apartments, three of which are rent-stabilized and three of which are “market rate” apartments. The Harmons claim that the Rent Stabilization Law is a physical taking of their property because the law forces them to continue to rent the three rent-stabilized apartments to current tenants and their successors at below-market rates in perpetuity, thus taking the Harmons’ fundamental property right to exclude persons from those units.


In our amicus brief, we argue that the court below incorrectly relied on Yee v. City of Escondido in dismissing the Harmons’ “physical takings” claim because the New York City Rent Stabilization Law compels an owner of rent-stabilized apartments to submit to a non-consensual permanent physical occupation of the rent-stabilized apartment units, because the decision in Yee was limited to the “unusual economic relationship between mobile home park owners and mobile home owners” which does not exist in the case of rent-stabilized apartments, and because the economic relationship between rent-stabilized tenants and owners of rent-stabilized buildings presents the “different case” contemplated in Yee.
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Atlantic Legal Foundation Files Amicus Brief in Support of Harmon Rent Control Challenge

 

No. 11-496
_______________________________________________
IN  TH E
Supreme Court of the United States
JAMES D. HARMON, JR. and JEANNE HARMON,
Petitioners,
v.
JONATHAN L. KIMMEL, in his official capacity as
MEMBER AND CHAIR OF THE NEW YORK CITY
RENT GUIDELINES BOARD, et al.,
Respondents.
ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI
TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT