The Buckeye Institute Calls on 6th Circuit to Protect Nashvillians from Government Extortion

Feb 23, 2022

Columbus, OH – On Tuesday, The Buckeye Institute filed an amicus brief in Knight v. Nashville urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to stop the city of Nashville, Tennessee from extorting payments from its citizens to build sidewalks in the city in return for granting building permits for work completely unrelated to sidewalks.

“By placing conditions on granting building permits, the city of Nashville is essentially using its power to unconstitutionally extort payments from its citizens for city work that is wholly unrelated to the permitted activity,” said Jay R. Carson, senior litigator for The Buckeye Institute. “In Dolan v. City of Tigard, the U.S. Supreme Court was clear, city governments cannot impose conditions on citizens—such as forcing citizens to pay to build sidewalks—to receive a building permit that is unrelated to the permit itself.”

Jim Knight and Jason Mayes, two landowners who are challenging the city of Nashville’s sidewalk ordinance, are represented by Southeastern Legal Foundation and the Beacon Center of Tennessee. Under Nashville’s ordinance, the city requires—as a condition for obtaining a building permit—that landowners either build a sidewalk for the city on the landowner’s property or pay into a sidewalk fund to build sidewalks elsewhere in the city. 

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UPDATE: On May 10, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that Nashville’s controversial sidewalk law was an unconstitutional taking in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.