Amicus Brief Co-Authored By Timothy Kassouni In Property Rights Case

Timothy Kassouni

December 23, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted a writ of certiorari in a case where a California regulation required agricultural businesses to allow union organizers access to their property to organize workers. Timothy Kassouni, a California attorney, filed a friend of the court (amicus brief) on behalf of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, a Louisiana-based think tank. His brief favors the right of Cedar Point Nursery, the agricultural business that filed the lawsuit, to exclude those who would interfere with the quiet enjoyment of their property.

The case centers around Cal. code regs. tit. 8, § 20900. That regulation allows union organizer representatives to enter Cedar Point Nursery and other private agricultural business properties to recruit members. It also allows the union to determine the time, place, and manner of their recruitment efforts at these businesses. The organizers can enter the property one hour before work, during lunch, and one hour after work to organize the employees. They do not have to notify the company when they are coming, states Timothy Kassouni.

Organizers arrived at Cedar Point during one of the year’s busiest times, just at the end of the strawberry harvest time when most seasonal workers were present. Cedar Point was also trying to harvest the strawberries while they were still fresh. “Cedar Point was forced to welcome organizers at a time when most businesses would have been able to exclude them,” says Timothy Kassouni.

It forced the company to accept organizers whenever the organizers choose, in violation of cases rooted in the Fifth Amendment Taking Clause.

Timothy Kassouni co-authored brief cities to several important cases, including Chicago, B. & Q.R. Co. v. City of Chicago, 166 U.S. 226, 236 (1897). “In a free government, almost all other rights would become worthless if the government possessed an uncontrollable power over the private fortune of every citizen,” the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged in that case.

The brief also included another case from about 20 years later. In that case, Justice Brandeis wrote that “[a]n essential element of individual private property is the legal right to exclude others from enjoying it.” Int’l News Serv. v. Associated Press, 248 U.S. 215, 250 (1918) (Brandeis, J. dissenting).

Cedar Point was forced to accommodate the organizers at a disruptive time, ignoring the property owners’ right to exclude, stated Timothy Kassouni. He and the Pelican Institute are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the holding by the 9th Circuit against Cedar Point. Oral arguments are scheduled for spring 2021. Timothy Kassouni worked with Sarah Harbison, Pelican Institute counsel, to prepare the amicus brief.

“I am confident the U.S. Supreme Court will confirm the Constitutional right of property owners to exclude those who would interfere with the privacy of their property,” said Timothy Kassouni.

The Pelican Institute is a nonpartisan research and educational organization that conducts research and analysis to advance sound policies based on free enterprise, individual liberty, and constitutionally limited government.

Timothy Kassouni founded Kassouni Law with the belief that personal freedom and property rights are intertwined. He considers defending property rights against government and private abuse to be his duty. He has many years of litigation experience against private and public entities at all court levels, including the U.S. Supreme Court, the California Supreme Court, the California Court of Appeal, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Timothy Kassouni was born in New York, spent most of his childhood in Los Angeles and Fresno, and currently resides in Sacramento. He has served as a temporary district attorney for Sacramento County and was a Fritz B. Burns Fellow at the Pacific Legal Foundation. Before founding his firm, he worked for other prestigious organizations, including the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office, the Pacific Legal Foundation, Hamilton & Samuels, and the Constitutional property rights practice of Zumbrun Law.

His litigation expertise in land use, appeals, business, and property rights law has led to legal victories and the settling of legal disputes throughout the state. Timothy Kassouni interacts with those from all walks of life, including small farmers to large commercial developers.

Timothy Kassouni is a graduate of the Loyola School of Law, where he had the opportunity to study eminent domain and inverse condemnation law under professor Gideon Kanner. Kanner is a leading scholar and attorney in the property rights field. He also received a bachelors’ degree in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley.