Dana Berliner is Senior Counsel of the Institute for Justice, Washington, D.C., a public interest law firm in Washington, D.C. The Institute advocates that individuals should be allowed to control their own destinies as free and responsible members of society. Ms. Berliner litigates eminent domain, economic liberty, property rights, and other constitutional cases in both federal and state courts. She has served as lead counsel in a successful case that garnered national attention challenging Ohio's requirement that African hairbraiders spend a year in cosmetology school, in which they learn nothing about braiding, in order to practice their profession.
When she successfully defended Vera Coking, an elderly widow in Atlantic City, N.J., the Institute's work defending small property owners from eminent domain became nationally prominent. As co-counsel, she stopped a state agency from condemning Mrs. Coking's house to give it to Donald Trump for a limousine waiting area. She has gone on to litigate many other free enterprise and eminent domain cases.
This year, the Institute published her report, Public Power, Private Gain, revealing that over the past five years, governments have condemned or threatened more than 10,000 homes, businesses, churches and private land for private business development. More than 4,000 of these properties are currently under threat of condemnation for private parties.
The Institute just announced court victories against eminent domain in Arizona and New York.. On October 1, the Arizona Court of Appeals unanimously struck down the City of Mesa's use of eminent domain to seize the brake shop of Randy Bailey and hand it to a private developer - with a $2 million taxpayer subsidy. A week earlier, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals removed procedural barriers from small businessman Bill Brody, who is fighting the Village of Port Chester, New York, which seeks to give his property to a private developer to turn it into a Stop & Shop parking lot. Mr. Brody is challenging this State's eminent domain law for allowing local governments to take private property without personally notifying the owner until it is too late to object. Newspaper notices are all that New York requires.
Ms. Berliner received her law and undergraduate degrees from Yale University where she was a member of the Yale Law Journal and represented clients through the legal services program. After law school, she clerked for Judge Jerry Smith on the United State Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Her ideas have been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Investor's Business Daily, The Washington Post, as well as on countless other publications, radio and television broadcasts. This September, her defense of small property owners threatened with eminent domain to turn their property over to private developers was featured on "60 Minutes."