More Amicus Briefs Filed in Brandt

December 9, 2013

Another amicus brief has been filed in support of the landowner, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the 10th Circuit’s decision, this time by two public interest law firms.  The Pacific Legal Foundation and the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence argue that the Tenth Circuit’s decision that the United States retained an “implied reversionary interest” in the 1875 Act right-of-way repudiated the common law rules of property ownership in favor of a per se rule.  “The Tenth Circuit’s repudiation of the common law is fundamentally at odds with decisions of this Court and other courts that relied on the common law to define property interests in railroad right-of-way cases. Indeed, the common law guided this Court in construing the 1875 Act in Great Northern Railway Company v. United States, 315 U.S. 262 (1942).”  That case held that that the Act “grants only an easement, and not a fee.”  315 U.S at 271.  The brief effectively cites to several instances where the federal government has made arguments in cases that actually support the position taken by the amici.

Two other amicus briefs were filed supporting the landowner petitioners.  In their brief, the Cato Institute and the National Association of Reversionary Property Owners note that the Tenth Circuit’s decision conflicts with cases decided by the Seventh and Federal Circuits, and describes the problems that will result.  The Northwest Legal Foundation’s brief stresses the fundamental nature of property rights and argues that the Statute of Frauds and other similar legal principles involving the transfer of legal property interests should apply equally to the federal government.

This case is scheduled for oral argument on January 14, 2014.