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September 12, 2011

Law professor Somin: in Atlantic Yards and Columbia eminent domain cases, "the [NY Court of Appeals] broke dubious new ground"

Atlantic Yards Report

Last February, libertarian law professor Ilya Somin of George Mason University, at a conference at Fordham Law School, called the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case in state court and the subsequent case challenging Columbia University's expansion "among the worst I've ever seen."

A law review article based on his presentation will be published in the October 2011 of the Fordham Urban Law Journal, titled Let There Be Blight: Blight Condemnations in New York after Goldstein and Kaur. (In several places, Somin cites an article I co-authored.)

(The AY case is known as Goldstein vs. New York State Urban Development Corporation and the Columbia case is known as Kaur vs. New York State Urban Development Corporation.)

Somin's argument:

the New York Court of Appeals erred badly, by allowing highly abusive blight condemnations and defining pretextual takings so narrowly as to essentially read the concept out of existence.

The "extraordinarily broad definition of “blight,” he allows, is not out of line with that of other states that define blight expansively though "odds with the text of the New York Constitution, which allows blight condemnations only in 'substandard and insanitary areas.'"

He also points to three areas in which the court failed to consider evidence and thus "broke dubious new ground":

  • evidence that the blight studies were predetermined
  • evidence that the firm conducting the blight studies, AKRF, had a conflict of interest, given that it had been concurrently and consecutively paid by Columbia and Forest City, respectively
  • evidence that the parties seeking the land had contributed to the blight


Posted by eric at September 12, 2011 11:36 AM