December 26, 2019
As 2019 draws to a close, the Goldwater Institute is looking back at some of the efforts we’ve been most proud of this year—and looking ahead to where we’re going in 2020.
Goldwater Institute attorneys could be found in courtrooms from coast to coast in 2019. In cases involving property rights, taxpayer rights, and many other issues affecting people’s freedoms, we took the cause of liberty to courtrooms nationwide.
One of these victories was in Miami Beach, Florida, which imposed the highest fines in the country for sharing one’s home as a short-term rental. Even a single violation could result in a fine of tens of thousands of dollars. Goldwater lawyers challenged these fines as a violation of Florida state law, which protects homeowners from excessive local fines. A Florida trial court agreed, saying that the city’s home-sharing fines were “in jarring conflict with [state law] and are therefore illegal and unenforceable.”
Up the Eastern seaboard, the Goldwater Institute scored another win, this time for taxpayers in Jersey City, New Jersey. We represented taxpayers in a case challenging “release time”—a practice that pays government employees to work for government unions instead of for the public, while still receiving their taxpayer-funded salaries and benefits. In Jersey City, the school district was paying the salaries of two full-time teachers who did not spend their time educating children, but rather performing full-time union work—costing taxpayers $1.1 million over the course of the agreement. The New Jersey Court of Appeals sided with taxpayers, saying that these teachers were “act[ing] exclusively as labor leaders,” rather than as “teachers who serve the day-to-day educational needs of the students of the district.” Thanks to this win, public funds can no longer be used for release time in Jersey City.
In another home-sharing case, this time in California, a trial judge agreed with our argument that the city of Pacific Grove violated the law when it prohibited homeowners from allowing people to stay in their homes. State law requires approval from the California Coastal Commission before seaside towns change the way land is used—but Pacific Grove officials chose to deprive responsible homeowners of the right to rent their property without consulting the Commission.
In the meantime, we litigated cases in Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Oregon, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, Washington State, and Ohio, and we filed friend of the court briefs in cases from North Carolina to California. At the same time, Goldwater attorneys published important legal analysis on subjects such as the Arizona Constitution’s “Private Affairs Clause,” the burdens of occupational licensing laws, and the rights of medical patients to make their own choices about what medicines to use.
Our Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation is a voice in the courts for the rights of all Americans to economic liberty, private property rights, freedom of speech, and the right to run their own lives as they see fit. We’re proud of our 2019 achievements—and look forward to many more in 2020.