Yesterday, Minnesota Litigator covered a crusade against Fruit Roll Ups. Such public interest litigation is generally associated with the left wing of U.S. politics. The spirit animating left-wing causes is often that the government is not doing enough. In the case of Fruit Roll Ups, an implicit point is that government food-labeling regulation, for example, has “failed to keep them honest.”
The genesis of right wing public interest litigation is more often that the government is doing too much rather than too little, of course — that the government is wrongfully interfering in citizens’ lives and conduct.
If I fought to raise live-stock on my 1/2 acre property in Edina and the City of Edina prohibited this use, I would not get much sympathy. Most people in our society understand that “private property” and one’s related rights are understandably limited by the rest of society. And we are okay with that. (Except in certain parts of Texas.)
Where things get more complicated, of course, are when the fact pattern is less one-sided. What if I live in more rural Minnesota? And I don’t want to use my land in some way that is dramatically inconsistent with surrounding uses; I just want to replace a mobile home on my property for use by my daughter or I want to rent out a building on my land to “a single disabled woman and her cat”?
The Parker Rosen firm is taking up the cause of a couple of “private property activists” in Houston County. Minnesota Litigator will fight the impulse of handicapping the relative validity of plaintiffs’ claims in this case vs. Annie Lam’s in the Fruit Roll Up case covered yesterday. Suffice it to say that, again, in public interest litigation, the motivations and incentives are very different from “normal” civil litigation. Presumably the plaintiffs’ obviously long battle with Houston County did not start with the Solum lawsuit nor will it likely end with it.