“High court’s rent dodge.” Phooey.

This head up there — coming from today’s Daily News editorial page — and the ed that follows defines why this newspaper is a tabloid. And yes, I know that “tabloid” indicates the shape and size of the paper, not the contents, but really, it does indicate the contents, as the occasionally useful Wikipedia tells us. (“Useful,” as in when I’m being lazy.)

Tabloid newspapers are fun, but they dumb down stuff and skew them politically toward simplistics (it’s my observation that simplistics are usually right wing), apparently because they think their readers aren’t very smart and won’t notice. However, I think that the editors are often not smart — especially about the Constitution, law and its process — and this editorial relating to the Supreme Court’s denial of a review to the rich guy who challenged rent control, is a good example:

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when the justices of the Supreme Court discussed whether to consider a challenge to the constitutionality of New York rent regulations as applied to one Manhattan property owner.

The petition for a hearing filed by James Harmon, whose family has owned and lived in a five-story upper West Side brownstone for decades, scared the bejeezus out of tenant advocates and the Democratic establishment.

Why? Because he made a powerful argument that the law forced him to rent in perpetuity to tenants and their heirs at well below market rate, thus depriving him of full enjoyment of property, thus, in effect, taking his property without compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

The court’s inscrutable handling of the matter suggested at least one justice was inclined to put it on the calendar, but in the end it wasn’t to be. A majority said no without explanation, which is in keeping with the court’s standard procedure.

By our reckoning, that was a sad mistake. Harmon waged a valiant uphill fight seeking a statement from America’s highest legal authority about the limits of one man’s private property rights. The question was fundamental and deserved an answer.

No, it wasn’t and it didn’t. As the much longer New York Times article  by the admirable Adam Liptak, ostensibly on the same subject, makes clear.

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