Nick Sprayregen and his attorney Norman Siegel have writ of certiorari with the US Supreme Court challenging the NY Court of Appeals decision that upheld the ESDC's eminent domain action against Sprayregen's property. As the brief says:
"THIS PETITION SHOULD BE GRANTED TO ADDRESS TWO URGENT QUESTIONS ARISING FROM THE COURT OF APPEALS OF NEW YORK’S DISMISSAL OF PETITIONERS’ CHALLENGE TO THE LEGITIMACY OF THE GOVERNMENTAL TAKINGS AT ISSUE IN THIS CASE:
1. WHETHER IT WAS ERROR FOR THE COURT OF APPEALS OF NEW YORK TO DISREGARD THE PRINCIPLES ENUNCIATED IN KELO V. CITY OF NEW LONDON, 545 U.s. 469 (2005) IN SANCTIONING THE USE OF EMINENT DOMAIN FOR THE BENEFIT OF A PRIVATE DEVELOPER, WHEN THE CIRCUMSTANCES PRESENTED BY THE INSTANT CASE EXEMPLIFY THE VERY BAD FAITH, PRETEXT, AND FAVORITISM THAT THIS COURT WARNED COULD RESULT IF KELO’S SAFEGUARDS WERE IGNORED?
2. WHETHER THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES IMPOSES ANY MINIMUM PROCEDURAL STANDARDS, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENT OF FUNDAMENTAL FAIRNESS, TO PRESERVE A PROPERTY OWNER’S MEANINGFUL OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF AN EMINENT DOMAIN TAKING?"
Put simply, Sprayregen believes that the NY court erred in its application of the SC guidelines in the Kelo case-and he emphasizes in particular the bad faith and favoritism that we have discussed on this blog-with the collusion of the consultants being case one of a fix being in for the benefit of Columbia University. In the second instance, Sprayregen is directly challenging the total lack of due process in the eminent domain procedure laws of NYS-laws that afford the property owners zero due process to argue against the state's use of the eminent domain right.
In essence Sprayregen is arguing that the Columbia expansion-and the ESDC collusion in it-exhibit exactly the kind of private transfer that Judge Stevens said Kelo was designed to prevent. As Siegel argues:
"THE INSTANT CASE PRESENTS JUST SUCH A SITUATION. RESPONDENT New York STATE URBAN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION D⁄B⁄A EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION (“esd¢”), 1 THE CONDEMNING AGENCY, HAS EFFECTIVELY EXERCISED ITS POWER OF EMINENT DOMAIN ON BEHALF OF AND IN COLLUSION WITH ¢OLUMBIA UNIVERSITY (“COLUMBIA”), AN INFLUENTIAL PRIVATE BENEFICIARY WHICH SEEKS TO EXPAND ITS CAMPUS INTO NEW YORK CITY’S WEST HARLEM NEIGHBORHOOD. THE TAKINGS AT ISSUE – INVOLVING PRIVATE PROPERTY OWNED BY TWO LOCAL BUSINESS OWNERS –WAS ORCHESTRATED AS PART OF A LONGSTANDING ARRANGEMENT BETWEEN ESDC AND COLUMBIA, THE DETAILS OF WHICH RAISE A SHARP SUSPICION THAT “A PRIVATE PURPOSE WAS AFOOT...
THE USE OF EMINENT DOMAIN HERE WAS THUS A FAIT ACCOMPLI MEANT TO CIRCUMVENT ANY OBSTACLES TO THE REALIZATION OF COLUMBIA’S PRIVATE AGENDA.”
So now Sprayregen and the Singh family waits and hopes that the US SC takes up this case-but in the interim, is there any possibility that this use of eminent domain on behalf of Columbia, and also in the even more massive Willets Point development, will become fodder for the political campaign for governor? It certainly is a potential issue that could well serve to differentiate the two gubernatorial candidates.