Governance Civil Justice
December 16th, 2022 1 Minute Read Amicus Brief by Ilya Shapiro

Amicus Brief: Marfil v. City of New Braunfels


In 2011, the City of New Braunfels, Texas, passed an ordinance banning short-term rentals (STRs) in large portions of the city. A coalition of STR owners sued, alleging that the ban was an irrational violation of their property rights. The city moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the court must accept the city’s statements that STRs were a nuisance. 

Both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and Texas Supreme Court have struck down economic regulations when the rationale for the regulations was not supported by evidence. Recently, however, state and local governments have attempted to avoid such meaningful review by filing motions to dismiss economic-liberty and property-rights cases before any evidence is discovered or presented. These motions typically involve a bare statement that the challenged regulation serves a legitimate interest, which they assert is alone under “rational basis” judicial review to pass constitutional muster. 

That's what happened here: the district court accepted New Braunfels’s assertions that the STRs were a nuisance despite the lack of any discovery (which would have shown no complaints or other evidence of nuisance). Now on appeal before the Fifth Circuit, the Manhattan Institute has joined Pacific Legal Foundation on an amicus brief focused on the importance of real judicial scrutiny in property-rights cases.


Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow and director of Constitutional Studies at the Manhattan Institute. Follow him on Twitter here.


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