Will New York's Highest Court Re-Hear the Atlantic Yards Case?


As I discussed last week and as Jacob Sullum discussed yesterday, last week's appellate court ruling against Columbia University's eminent domain abuse stands in stark contrast to last month's decision by New York's highest court upholding a very similar eminent domain taking on behalf of the Atlantic Yards stadium project in Brooklyn. But if it was illegal for the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to condemn private property on Columbia's behalf based on a highly spurious designation of "blight" (which the court rightly denounced as "sophistry" and "idiocy"), why is it acceptable for the same state agency to use the same idiotic "blight" standards to condemn private property on behalf of real estate tycoon (and ACORN sugar daddy) Bruce Ratner?

That's precisely what the Atlantic Yards plaintiffs would like to know. So they've filed a motion today asking for a rehearing in light of the lower court's harsh judgment against Columbia and ESDC. Here's plaintiffs attorney Matthew Brinckerhoff:

We do not bring this motion for reargument lightly. But this is an extraordinary situation.  It's not every day that a court rules that the ESDC has conspired with an influential private party to violate the constitutional right to property. Given the Columbia and Atlantic Yards rulings, no one knows whether their property is now vulnerable to the ESDC engaging in the same pattern.  We need clarity concerning the ESDC's fraudulent abuse of the 'blight' issue.  . The ESDC has been unmasked as a serial eminent domain abuser. We've reached a tipping point where that agency's actions regarding condemnation have lost all legitimacy.

Go here for the ugly details of ESDC's eminent domain abuse on behalf of Atlantic Yards. Go here for the details of ESDC's equally shameful actions on behalf of Columbia University.