October 29, 2020

I THINK IT WAS ALSO A FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION: Judge: Seattle’s Aid To Protest Zone Might Have Been a Taking.

Ordinarily you can’t sue the government for failing to protect you from private criminal actors. But a federal judge has allowed a suit to go forward filed by business owners against the city of Seattle over injuries done by far‐​left activists who seized 16 blocks this June and proclaimed a weeks‐​long “autonomous zone” (CHOP or CHAZ).

Law professor Ilya Somin writes that he initially approached the case with skepticism, but was surprised to find it stronger than expected. The reason: the plaintiffs argue that the city did not merely stand by passively, but assisted the occupiers by letting them use city property such as street barriers which hindered the plaintiffs from enjoying free access to their businesses and homes. Because the city government had taken many affirmative steps to assist the occupation, as contrasted with omissions, the episode could be interpreted as a temporary taking of property for which compensation is due. (The judge also allowed two due process claims to proceed.)

Good. Plus: “If the plaintiffs’ account of events is largely accurate, it reveals terrible behavior by city officials (as well as by the CHOP activists). That is deeply troubling even if the city cannot be held legally liable under the Takings Clause.”

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