James and Jeanne Harmon, who sued over rent regulation, deserved their day in Supreme Court.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 4:00 AM
Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when the justices of the Supreme Court discussed whether to consider a challenge to the constitutionality of New York rent regulations as applied to one Manhattan property owner.
The petition for a hearing filed by James Harmon, whose family has owned and lived in a five-story upper West Side brownstone for decades, scared the bejeezus out of tenant advocates and the Democratic establishment.
Why? Because he made a powerful argument that the law forced him to rent in perpetuity to tenants and their heirs at well below market rate, thus depriving him of full enjoyment of property, thus, in effect, taking his property without compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment.
The court’s inscrutable handling of the matter suggested at least one justice was inclined to put it on the calendar, but in the end it wasn’t to be. A majority said no without explanation, which is in keeping with the court’s standard procedure.
By our reckoning, that was a sad mistake. Harmon waged a valiant uphill fight seeking a statement from America’s highest legal authority about the limits of one man’s private property rights. The question was fundamental and deserved an answer.
Source: NY Daily News
Monday, March 26, 2012, 4:10 AM
J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP
A Manhattan brownstone owner suing over rent laws deserves his day in Supreme Court.
Against long odds, a Manhattan brownstone owner has argued a challenge to New York’s rent laws all the way to the doorstep of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Upper West Side attorney James Harmon, a former federal prosecutor, contends that government controls on three of the six apartments in his building unconstitutionally strip him of his property rights.
Two lower courts shot down his arguments. But he pressed his appeal to Washington and — much to the surprise of state and city housing officials — the high court demanded briefs on whether it should hear the case.
Those papers are now in, and they make clear that Harmon is raising fundamental issues that must be fully aired and definitely resolved.
The court should take the case and answer his simple but compelling question:
Manhattan attorney Jim Harmon has asked the high court to decide whether rent-stabilization regulations, as applied to his five-story brownstone on the upper West Side, are so severe as to amount to an unconstitutional taking of his property.