FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2009
CFIF Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Protect Private Property
Amicus Brief Urges High Court to Hear Empress
Casino Joliet v. Giannoulias
ALEXANDRIA, VA The Center for Individual Freedom (“CFIF”) last week joined with nine other national and state organizations in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to grant certiorari in the case of Empress Casino Joliet v. Giannoulias.
At issue in the case is the constitutionality of an Illinois statute that “taxes” just four riverboat casinos in the state for the sole purpose of directly transferring that money to Illinois’ five horse-racing tracks. Unfortunately, the Illinois Supreme Court recently upheld the statute.
CFIF’s brief charges that the Illinois statute directly violates the Fifth Amendment’s
Takings Clause and urges the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case and reverse the Illinois High Court’s decision. Specifically, the brief argues that a “law that forces one segment of an industry to directly support another imposes a taking without just compensation.”
“If allowed to stand, the Illinois statute will improperly impart unprecedented taxing authority on federal, state and local governments to unfairly seize revenues of one industry, or a portion of that industry, and directly transfer them to another,” said Jeffrey Mazzella, CFIF’s president. “Such authority strikes at the core of the Fifth Amendment, which states that a government taking of private property is only permitted for public use, and only if just compensation is paid. The Illinois statute circumvents both of those prongs, therefore undermining the very property rights protections that are at the heart of the Fifth Amendment,” Mazzella said.
Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal published an editorial on the case in which it suggested the Illinois statute was passed in part as a result of corruption by now-impeached Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. “Among the evidence in the Governor's impeachment trial were transcripts of Mr. Blagojevich and his brother Rob discussing some $100,000 in contributions as a quid pro quo for the legislation to benefit the racing industry,” The Wall Street Journal wrote.
In addition to CFIF, other organizations that signed the brief, initiated by and including the National Taxpayers Union, are the American Association of Small Property Owners, Citizen Outreach, Citizens for Limited Taxation, Evergreen Freedom Foundation, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, Hawaiian Values, Rio Grande Foundation and Small Business Hawaii.
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