For the last five years, Nick Sprayregen has been fighting for his property rights in New York City's Manhattanville. A small business owner in West Harlem, Sprayregen owns a local self-storage chain. In 2005, nearby Columbia University decided that it wanted to expand its campus, so it began consolidating land in the neighborhood. Columbia procured for itself a number of properties and then decided that it wanted Sprayregen's land, too. So the university worked with the state to have the area declared "blighted" so that the state could invoke eminent domain, force Sprayregen out, and then hand the land over to Columbia. In the abstract, the story is worrisome; in the details, it was downright sickening.
Yesterday came word that the Supreme Court has declined to hear Sprayregen's case. It's a sad defeat for Sprayregen, a black-eye for the New York legal system, and a blow to property rights in general.