November 9, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Demi Dowdy (919) 834-2099 firstname.lastname@example.org
RALEIGH – On Friday, November 6, the Civitas Institute Center for Law and Freedom (CLF) and the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) filed* a joint amicus brief asking the North Carolina Supreme Court to uphold the rights of property owners against unconstitutional takings.
The case of Kirby v. North Carolina Department of Transportation – commonly referred to as the “Map Act case” – involves facts dating back 25 years. In the late 1980s, the NC Department of Transportation began using the “Transportation corridor official map act” to designate “transportation corridors” within which landowners are prohibiting from developing their properties for certain uses. For example, one provisions of the Map Act states that within such corridors “no building permit shall be issued for any building or structure or part thereof located within…nor shall approval of a subdivision…be granted with respect to property within the transportation corridor.”
Attorney Matthew Bryant of Winston-Salem argued that these “transportation corridors” amounted to unconstitutional takings of property without just compensation. After losing in Forsyth County Superior Court, Bryant and his clients won their case at the North Carolina Court of Appeals, which ruled unanimously in their favor earlier this year.
The North Carolina Supreme Court granted a discretionary appeal in order to have a final say in the matter.
“This case presents the question of whether our federal and state constitutions really mean what they say,” CLF Staff Attorney Elliot Engstrom said. “The idea that the government can bar a landowner from developing property while simultaneously destroying the land’s sale value, and then claim that nothing has been taken for constitutional purposes, is repugnant to the basic principles of constitutional governance. Constitutions exist for cases like this.”
CLF filed the brief in cooperation with the Pacific Legal Foundation, the first and oldest conservative/libertarian law firm in the United States.
“The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and North Carolina law, both require the government to compensate a property owner when it takes property from that private landowner,” PLF Atlantic Center Managing Attorney Mark Miller said in a blog post. “Here, North Carolina thought it could get around that basic rule of American law by asserting that it was simply using its ‘police powers’ to plan roadways for the future.”
The North Carolina Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Kirby later this year or early in 2016.
*CLF and PLF filed their motions for admission pro hac vice and leave to file an amicus brief contemporaneously with their brief. The brief will not officially be accepted by the North Carolina Supreme Court until it grants both of these motions. Should the Court not grant either motion, this release will be updated to reflect that.
The Center for Law and Freedom (CLF), a nonprofit public interest law firm housed within the Civitas Institute, provides free legal representation to North Carolinians facing governmental violations of their constitutional or other legal rights. CLF represents North Carolinians in cases such as administrative agency actions, constitutional litigation, and transparency lawsuits. The Center is part of the Civitas Institute’s overall mission to implement conservative policy solutions for the benefit of all North Carolinians.