Scoring Big Wins for Property Rights with Strategic Amicus Briefs
Although the overwhelming majority of IJ’s work in courts involves our own original litigation, we know from experience that we can help score big wins for liberty by filing amicus briefs—also called friend-of-the-court briefs—in carefully selected cases litigated by others. Just recently, we celebrated two such victories in Ohio and Nevada.
In Ohio, we filed an amicus brief in Ohio Power Company v. Burns, an eminent domain case involving a public utility’s attempt to take an excessive easement on private farmland. Here, we got involved to defend IJ’s landmark 2006 victory in Norwood v. Horney, in which the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously rejected the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous ruling in Kelo v. City of New London. Our brief argued that Norwood applies not only to cases challenging takings for nonpublic use but also to unnecessarily broad takings. And in an opinion that closely tracked IJ’s brief, the Ohio Supreme Court once again unanimously agreed.
Meanwhile, in Nevada, IJ both filed a brief and participated in oral argument in Mack v. Williams, a case with major implications for one of our own: IJ client Stephen Lara’s challenge to the Nevada Highway Patrol’s unconstitutional forfeiture of his life’s savings of $87,000, without arresting him or charging him with a crime. The government in Mack argued that nothing in Nevada law explicitly permitted lawsuits like Stephen’s, and Stephen’s case was being held pending a ruling in Mack. Ultimately, and as IJ argued, the Nevada Supreme Court held that “a right does not, as a practical matter, exist without any remedy for its enforcement.” Thanks to this ruling, Stephen will finally have the chance to vindicate his rights in court.
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