Update (June 6, 2013): I said it would be a close case (see below). I was wrong. Notwithstanding a formidable battalion challenging the city ordinance, it was unanimously upheld.
Because the law can be applied constitutionally, appellants’ facial challenge fails and we must affirm the court of appeals. We need not decide the unsettled question of whether the Minnesota Constitution prohibits the issuance of an administrative warrant under the Red Wing Licensing Inspection ordinance absent some individualized suspicion of a housing code violation, and we express no opinion on whether appellants’ argument could succeed on an as-applied basis.
For the rare detailed football footnote in a judicial opinion, see footnote 4 in Justice Paul A. Anderson’s concurrence. Justice Anderson praises the “no call,” whereby, in close decisions, it might be best for the justice system (or the refs) to step back and defer to the executive branch or to the game itself, as the case may be.
Update (February 12, 2013): Last week, the Minnesota Supreme Court heard argument in this longstanding dispute a facial challenge to a Red Wing ordinance in its housing maintenance code. While we all recognize a public interest in maintaining health and safety of rental housing, is the ordinance, on its face, unconstitutionally vague and intrusive of private property rights, violating the state constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures? Of particular importance to some on the Court is the question of how much the Minnesota Constitution and interpretation of it should track the U.S. Constitution. This is going to be a close case.
Update (June 11, 2012): The Minnesota Supreme Court granted the petition for review of this case on December 29, 2010, issued a decision on December 28, 2011, and sent the case back to the trial court to give the libertarian plaintiffs another shot at challenging a Red Wing municipal ordinance. And they lost again at the trial court. And they lost again today at the Court of Appeals. Ideologues will disagree on the merits but no one can question the tenacity of these individual rights activists.
Original Post, 10/1/2010: The libertarian Institute for Justice has been trying to stand up for landlords in the town of Red Wing (“come for a visit, stay for a lifetime“) against non-consensual rental housing inspections but its effort has been rebuffed at the trial court and at the Minnesota Court of Appeals based on a finding of lack of standing.
The Court of Appeals’ unpublished decision (authored by retired district court Judge Lawrence T. Collins, and joined by Louis Dovre Bjorkman and Jill Flaskamp Halbrooks) reflects a long-standing challenge to Redwing’s Housing Maintenance Code and repeated successes challenging inspections under the ordinance.