Olech and Animus are at Issue in Armour v. Indianapolis

March 5th, 2012

How did I miss this? I am a failure. Anyway, Armour v. Indianapolis, argued a few days ago at the Court, may resolve a question left open by Village of Willowbrook v. Olech–is there a malice requirement for a class-of-one equal protection claim?

From the Petitioner’s brief (authored in part by Roy Englert):

The court below also suggested that “class-of-one cases” require plaintiffs to demonstrate that “underlying the government’s decision is animus or ill-will toward the plaintiffs.” See Pet. App. 22a-23a (citing Olech, 528 U.S. at 566 (Breyer, J., concurring in the result), and Bell, 367 F.3d at 709-713 (Posner, J., concurring)). But the “animus” requirement embraced by the court below comes from an opinion concurring in the result in Olech and has never been endorsed by this Court, which instead has declared the number of individuals in a class “immaterial.” In any event, Allegheny Pittsburgh itself involved a uniformly applied but arbitrary rule and did not turn on—or even contain hints of—any perceived animus. The application of that case to this one therefore cannot be conditioned on such a showing.

Now I’ll keep an eye and see if the Court resolves this issue.