U.S. Supreme Court Decides Whether to Hear New York Eminent Domain Abuse Case
WEB RELEASE: December 6, 2010
John E. Kramer (703) 682-9320
Arlington, Va.—On Friday, December 10, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to decide whether to take Nick Sprayregen’s appeal and protect his family’s property. You have probably never heard of Nick Sprayregen, but his legal challenge has the potential to impact the lives of ordinary Americans more than most cases seeking U.S. Supreme Court consideration.
It is exactly because he is such an ordinary American that his experience should be taken to heart, because unless the U.S. Supreme Court takes some specific action on his behalf and stops the actions of a politically powerful private interest, the fate of his family business could be the fate of your home, your family business or any other property you and your family own.
Even though Nick worked hard his whole life, he now stands to lose what is rightfully his because of government’s use of eminent domain for someone else’s private gain.
The politicians and judges in New York, where he lives, have turned their backs on his constitutional rights. Now, the fate of his property and his family’s future lies in the hands of the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. If they do not take his case and reject their infamous Kelo ruling from five years ago, Nick Sprayregen will be the latest American to lose his private property and constitutional rights, but he won’t be the last.
In 1980, Nick’s father created a self-storage business in West Harlem called Tuck-it-Away. Self-storage back then was a new idea in the region and their business thrived. Nick joined the family business, ultimately taking it over after his father retired and expanding it to more than a dozen locations beyond their West Harlem headquarters. For Nick, his business represents a secure little corner of the world that is his own—a hard-earned possession he hopes some day to pass on to his children.
In 2004, however, his American Dream started to turn into an American nightmare. Columbia University—a private institution—began its efforts to expand its research facilities—which generate millions of dollars in private profits for the school each year. Columbia has convinced the Empire State Development Corporation to help it expand the private university’s facilities onto the very land where Nick’s business now stands. While New York’s Appellate Division invalidated the taking on the grounds that it (and the “blight” designation it was based on) was nothing more than a land-grab designed to advance Columbia’s private interests, the Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court) reversed that decision, holding that the state’s courts were not allowed to second-guess the government’s decision to seize private property.