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OpenMarket: Property Rights

  • Supreme Court Affirms Right to Challenge Government Power Grabs in Sackett v. EPA; Justice Alito Cites CEI Amicus Brief

    March 21, 2012
    Rejecting the arguments of the Obama administration, the Supreme Court has just held that EPA "compliance orders" can be challenged in court if they are arbitrary and capricious -- for example, if they are based on an erroneous bureaucratic interpretation of what a "wetland" is, that results in dry land improperly being declared an unusable wetland. In his concurring opinion, Justice Alito explained one reason why such judicial review is needed: the EPA uses vague, inconsistent standards when it declares seemingly-dry land to be a wetland. As he pointed out, citing CEI's amicus brief, "far from providing clarity and...
  • $26 Billion Mortgage Settlement Rips Off Investors to Trim Banks' Massive Costs of Bailing Out Deadbeat Borrowers

    February 10, 2012
    The $26 billion mortgage settlement announced yesterday is bad news for "bond investors including pension funds, according to Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Scott Simon," notes Bloomberg News.  He says that the settlement rips off innocent investors and pension funds in order to reduce the banks' costs of bailing out delinquent mortgage borrowers and others.  (As we noted earlier, the Justice Department, state attorneys general, and the biggest banks reached an agreement to provide $26 billion to delinquent mortgage borrowers and others, such as left-wing housing counseling similar to ACORN -- in what the New York Post calls a "...
  • CEI Files Amicus Brief in Magner v. Gallagher, to Guard Against Financial Meltdowns and Racial Preferences

    January 5, 2012
    To help prevent another financial crisis, CEI helped file an amicus brief in a pending Supreme Court case, Magner v. Gallagher. The case tests whether race-conscious "disparate-impact" causes of action can be judicially read into laws, like the Fair Housing Act, that ban racial discrimination, effectively turning the colorblind intentions of such laws upside down. "Disparate impact" is when a neutral policy happens to impact more minorities than whites, like a standardized test that whites pass at a higher rate than some minority group, even though test scores are calculated the same way for members of all races. The Supreme Court sometimes declines to interpret anti-discrimination statutes as banning neutral practices that have a "...
  • Hank Greenberg Rises Again -- Takes on Treasury, NY Fed in "Takings" Lawsuit

    November 22, 2011
    Feisty 86-year-old Hank Greenberg, long-time chief executive of AIG, is suing the Treasury Department and the New York Federal Reserve Bank charging that its 80 percent takeover of AIG in 2008 was unconstitutional. The suits, brought by Starr International and other AIG shareholders, say that the takeover violated the Fifth Amendment by taking property from those shareholders and using the company to transfer federal monies provided to AIG to banks that were trading partners of the insurer. The lawsuits seek damages of at least $25 billion. The “takings clause,” widely used to defend against eminent domain appropriation, reads “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation...
  • CEI Podcast for November 10, 2011: Eminent Domain Abuse

    November 10, 2011
    Land Use and Transportation Policy Analyst Marc Scribner explains why allowing the government to seize land from its owners and give it to developers is a bad idea.
  • Mississippi Voters Pass Initiative Restricting Eminent Domain Powers

    November 9, 2011
    Yesterday, voters in Mississippi overwhelmingly passed Initiative 31, which will limit eminent domain condemnations for private benefit. Despite opposition from Republican Governor Hailey Barbour, 73 percent of voters supported amending the state constitution to prohibit that any "property acquired by the exercise of the power of eminent domain under the laws of the State of Mississippi shall, for a period of ten years after its acquisition, be transferred or any interest therein transferred to any person, non-governmental entity, public-private partnership, corporation, or...
  • Spectrum Crunch Hype is No Scam

    November 2, 2011
    In a recent Washington Times op-ed, Mark Hyman of the Sinclair Broadcast Group makes some compelling arguments calling for a spectrum inventory. His suggestion that the NTIA and FCC fulfill their mandate from President Bush in 2003 to increase spectrum efficiencies is on point and laudable. It’s certainly true that plenty of spectrum currently sitting in government hands could be put to better use, and thus a part of the problem is spectrum management. But that’s about all Hyman gets right. His assertion that the “looming spectrum crisis” is a ruse manufactured by FCC Chairman Genachowski and parroted by major cell phone companies is completely erroneous. Hyman points to “the only independent study” on this subject to support this claim, one conducted by Citigroup. That...
  • Wealthy Chanhassen, Minnesota, NIMBYs Oppose Retail Competition, Support Development Socialism

    November 2, 2011
    Reading the tired, silly claims of left-wing, anti-Wal-Mart activists generally makes me yawn. But it annoys me to see some of my former neighbors from my hometown of Chanhassen, Minnesota, going around trampling on property rights and opposing the liberalization of the real estate market. Let's start with a demographic profile of modern Chanhassen. When my parents moved our family there in the early 1990s, large parts of the city were still undeveloped. It was on the fringe of the southwestern Minneapolis suburbs. Since then, the city has developed rapidly due to its close proximity to the Minneapolis-St. Paul core -- leading to population doubling over the past two decades, with most of the growth coming from upper-middle class families with children. According to the 2010 Census, households are quite wealthy, with 48.6 percent of them earning at least $100,000 annually. Only 2.1...
  • Can Fraud Be Immunized by Giving the Defrauder Certain Governmental Powers Over the Victims?

    October 26, 2011
    Can a private organization that has been delegated some government regulatory powers claim absolute government immunity against lawsuits when it engages in fraud against those it regulates -- even when the fraud is at most distantly related to its regulatory functions? Amazingly enough, an appeals court said yes -- a ruling that conflicted with another appeals court's ruling -- and the Supreme Court is now being asked to reverse that decision. The Competitive Enterprise Institute joined Cato Institute in filing an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to review that disturbing ruling shielding wrongdoing. The brief, which cites constitutional safeguards and separation-of-powers principles, can be found here. The case is Standard...
  • Eminent Domain and Redevelopment: Down in the Dumps

    September 2, 2011
    Remember New London, Connecticut, the dying industrial town that threw property rights under the bus thanks to 2005's notoriously awful Kelo decision? I'm sure your blood pressure can answer that question. So, after the city was victorious in its case against homeowners, its planned redevelopment plans fell through after Pfizer closed its adjacent research facility. The cleared field that was once occupied by historic single-family homes became a home only for waist-high weeds and feral cats, as I noted on the five-year anniversary of the decision last year. Amazingly, things have gotten even worse. Via Reason's Damon Root:
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