Normally denials of petitions for certiorari pass by in relative silence. The general expectation is that the Supreme Court takes very few cases each year, and most of those that it takes involve matters of administrative and public law that are of concern to federal government and its many distinct agencies.
Many people, myself included, hoped that this inexorable trend would change with the petition for certiorari that James and Jeanne Harmon filed challenging the constitutionality of New York City’s rent stabilization laws. Harmon had tirelessly promoted his cause to everyone who would listen, and when New York City was requested to answer the petition for certiorari hopes rose. When the case was held for further reflection, they rose yet again. But in the end the unexplained denial of certiorari, without a visible dissent, indicated that it was business as usual in the Supreme Court.
It is important to understand what this tells us about the current attitudes of the Supreme Court. All too often, we discuss–as in connection with the Affordable Care Act–the deep divisions between the conservative and liberal justices. But we do not often talk about the strong agreement across that political divide on questions pertaining to property rights.
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