Penn Central’s Revenge

What happens when New York City throws a landmark Supreme Court decision out the window? A $1.1 billion lawsuit. On September 28, 2015, the owner of Grand Central filed suit against New York City for allegedly taking $475 million in property rights preserved from Penn Central v. New York City and giving them away for free to the city’s largest landlord. For those who have not read the legendary Penn Central case, here is what happened: New York City’s Grand Central Terminal was designated a historic landmark in 1967, which completely foreclosed its owner’s plans to construct an office tower above the terminal. The owner, Penn Central, filed suit against the city alleging an unconstitutional regulatory taking. At issue in the case was the city’s power to take private property for public uses. In what is known as the “Takings Clause,” the Constitution of the United States provides that “private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.” Penn Central argued that by restricting the vertical development of their property, the city had taken valuable “air rights,” thus the city was required to compensate Penn Central. The case ultimately went to the Supreme Court where the Court [read more]

Sex Sells, But Should The Law Treat Buyers and Sellers of Sex the Same?

On August 11, 2015, leading human rights organization, Amnesty International, passed a resolution calling for the “full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work.” Amnesty International is not the first major human rights organization to call for the legalization of the world’s oldest profession. The World Health Organization, UNAIDS, UN Development Programme, Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, and Human Rights Watch have all advocated for the decriminalization of prostitution to address an array of human rights concerns, from the transmission of HIV to human trafficking.   Not surprisingly, Amnesty International’s resolution was not universally praised. The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International (CATW) quickly responded negatively and posted a petition on urging Amnesty International leaders to “Vote NO to Decriminalizing Pimps, Brothel Owners, and Buyers of Sex.” Currently, the petition has over ten thousand signatories, including celebrity activists such as Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Anne Hathaway, andLena Dunham. The symbiotic relationship between global human rights organizations and the celebrities who publicly support their platforms is certainly not new; we live in a world where Angelina Jolie’s work with the U.N. is more press-worthy than that of General Assembly President Sam Kutesa. Particularly within the discussion of sex [read more]
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