The U. S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear
an appeal contending that New York City's rent control laws are unconstitutional. James and Jeanne Harmon, who own a five-story brownstone building on Manhattan's Upper West Side (pictured at left), had their case rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York City last September
The Harmons claimed that the law violates their Fifth Amendment rights, citing the part that says that "private property [shall not] be taken for public use without just compensation." The Court of Appeals disagreed, arguing that the Harmons knew what they were getting into when they acquired the building in 1994, and that they still retained the right to demolish the building or kick out bad tenants.
The Harmons appealed to the Supreme Court late last year. As usual when deciding not to hear a case, the justices gave no reasons, and there were no noted dissents.
The Harmons were upset with the court's decision. "We still believe that the Constitution does not allow the government to force us to take strangers into our home at our expense for life," said Mr. Harmon in a statement.
"Because of rent stabilization, it will now continue to be difficult for us to keep our home of five generations. We will not demolish our home as the federal courts suggested that we should do if we did not like the law."
New York City officials had something different to say about the case. "The court's decision is consistent with longstanding precedent that affirms the city and state's authority to enact these laws, which are an integral part of the city's effort to provide affordable housing to New Yorkers," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn
. "Now, the city's rent regulation system can proceed unfettered, as we continue to ensure affordable housing is available to New Yorkers."
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