Manatt Appellate Senior Counsel Michael Berger filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of independent research institution The Buckeye Institute in a U.S. Supreme Court case over property seizures under the Fifth Amendment.
The challenge in this case discusses whether a state provision can supersede a Constitutional amendment. In Ariyan Inc. v. Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans, the board claimed a Louisiana state constitutional provision eliminated the need to financially compensate Ariyan for the seizure of its property, despite the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause guaranteeing payment.
“It has purported to declare in its state constitution that its state government need not pay its debts unless and until it is ready … even if those debts are protected by the United States Constitution,” Berger wrote in the brief. “That cannot be allowed to stand.”
The district court dismissed Ariyan’s action seeking to force payment, holding that long-standing precedent does not allow the state to seize public funds or property to pay for a judgment against it. On appeal, the Fifth Circuit affirmed.
“It cannot be the law that a state can enact its own constitutional provision that allows it to evade a guarantee established in the federal constitution,” Berger wrote. “Yet that is what the Fifth Circuit allowed Louisiana to do.”
Read the full brief here.