Supreme Court Refuses to Hear NYC Rent Control Case

The Supreme Court announced this morning that it will not hear the legal challenge filed by New York landlords James and Jeanne Harmon against the city’s famous rent stabilization law. Because the Harmons previously lost at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which upheld the law as a legitimate exercise of state regulatory power, New York’s rent regulation scheme will remain in place. As I’ve previously noted, there was some reason to think that the Court might hear this case. In addition to the substantial Fifth Amendment issues the Harmons raised, the Supreme Court signaled its interest by instructing New York city and state officials to submit briefs responding to the Harmons’ appeal even though those same officials had initially waived their right to respond. Unfortunately for the Harmons, while one or more justices were apparently interested in hearing Harmon v. Kimmel, those justices were not able to marshal the four votes needed for a grant of certiorari.

For more on the legal issues surrounding rent control, see here and here.

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  • Pro Libertate||

    But the rent is too damned high!

  • o3||

    damn judicial inactivists

  • daveInAustin||

    Yet again, the so-called conservatives on the court refuse to do something to stop the government from overstepping its bounds. This is why we have things like individual mandates.

  • Randian||

    Yet again, the so-called conservatives on the court refuse to do something to stop the government from overstepping its bounds.

    Do you mean stopping the federal government from trespassing on state powers? Because that too is a "conservative" result.

  • ||

    Correct.

    Conservative here doesn't denote an ideological bias; it means adherence within the framework of the Constitution with careful adherence to the delineation of enumerated powers.

  • R C Dean||

    adherence within the framework of the Constitution with careful adherence to the delineation of enumerated powers.

    This wasn't an enumerated powers case. This was a BoR case, namely, at what point do rent control and tenant's rights become a taking of the landlords property.

    Under the 5th Amendment, which applies to the States. I don't see a "structural" case for judicial reticence here.

  • Paul.||

    namely, at what point do rent control and tenant's rights become a taking of the landlords property.

    Right about now...

  • daveInAustin||

    The federal government does have a place in limiting the states power when it infringes on the rights of individuals. The constitution says a government can't take a persons property without compensation. If a state starts doing just that and the state court doesn't stop them, then it is proper for the federal government to do so.

  • squarooticus||

    And so NYC will continue to be a place in which only long-time residents and rich people can live. NYC is already an amazing place: imagine how much more dynamic it would be if people could actually afford to move there.

  • Rhywun||

    I'm against rent control of any kind, but I've heard that getting rid of it would have a tiny effect, at best, on the rest of us. The rent is always going to be too damned high, but there are many other reasons for it besides rent control.

  • ||

    In certain well developed urban areas, it's pretty tough for the supply to ever keep up with the demand. That's as true of Roads in NYC as it is of Housing.

  • Aresen||

    The only thing about NYC that is worse than the residents' smugness is the fact that it lacks a good subduction fault underneath the city.

  • ||

    While NYC might not be prone to the same level of seismic activity as the Left Coast it is still almost on top of the Ramapo Fault.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    They have all those tripod machines buried under there though.

  • Randian||

    There is an argument to be made that federalism demands this result. It is a shame that states do this, but with that said, it may not be the place of the federal government to abrogate the powers of the States.

  • ||

    I agree with this argument, and it necessarily follows. There's nothing in the Constitution preventing an individual state from enacting statewide rent and mortgage controls if it so desired.

    It's when the other 49 decide to follow suit...

  • R C Dean||

    There's nothing in the Constitution preventing an individual state from enacting statewide rent and mortgage controls if it so desired.

    Up until the point where they become a taking, at which point the 5th Amendment requires the state to pay just compensation.

    This case raised the issue of whether NY had reached that point.

  • ||

    Good point on the taking issue.

    Your bringing up has lead me to rethink what I wrote in paragraph two below.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    I don't buy the whole "taking" issue in this case. Owners are free to sell their properties if they feel the state is being dickish with rent regulatory practices. The state hasn't "taken" anything.

    Saying that controlling rents is "taking" is a stretch of an argument. If you have to do mental gymnastics to make it fit the argument probably has little merit.

  • ||

    Clarence Thomas has written several opinions to the effect that such and such a law or policy might suck but it's still constitutional and he doesn't get to change it just because he doesn't like it.

    I'm not sure that I see anyuthing in the COTUS that says NYC can't control rents, or any other prices for that matter. But then I'm not a constitutional lawyer.

    The COTUS is be a fine document but it's far from a comprehensive manifesto of libertarianism or Austrian economics.

  • Paul.||

    There is an argument to be made that federalism demands this result.

    But only an argument. As RC pointed out above, at some point, property regulations become a defacto taking. That's a Bill of Rights issue-- which... don't apply to the states or something.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Federalism is not an effective approach to liberty.

  • creech||

    But but what about interstate commerce?
    Surely the furniture in those apts. came across state lines? Maybe NYC should just force everyone to rent an apartment?

  • ChrisO||

    The Supreme Court's decision whether to take a case is based heavily on whether the federal appellate courts are split on the legal issue at hand, and whether the case permits the Court to decide the issue "cleanly"--no procedural or factual complications to cloud the issue, in other words.

    I don't know how the various circuits have come down on rent control, but I suspect they approve of it nearly unanimously. Even if they do, it's conceivable that the Court could still weigh in on NYC's rent control ordinance, but much less likely.

  • Paul.||

    Ruby's videos, which often feature the singer in bed with male models, spurred Mubarak's Egyptian Censorship Committee in 2005 to ban music videos "which feature sexual connotations and females barely dressed." Several Egyptian bloggers have argued that the crackdown on Ruby's videos, which were ubiquitous in cafes, shops, and discos, spelled the end of the Mubarak regime. "It was an issue of a cultural revolution," writes Nahed Barakat, a prominent blogger in Cairo.

    Oh Ruuuuuuby, don't take your love to town...

    But seriously, while I'm definitely willing to entertain this alt-theory on what kicked off Sprintime for Arabs, how does that square with the immediate and unambiguous turn towards arguably more conservative political leanings with groups like the Muslim Brotherhood? Were the MB going to loosen up the terms on Ruby's performances?

  • Paul.||

    crap, wrong thread.

  • Paul.||

    Now that we're registered up and what not, we need a delete feature.

  • Just Dropping By||

    Yeah, I have wondered why it is we can't edit or delete comments if we're forced to log in to post.

  • Aresen||

    The server squirrels refuse to run backwards.

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