Posted by: Patricia Salkin | April 17, 2009

International Building Code Does Not Violate the Constitution

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, in affirming a dismissal of a pro se civil rights complaint, agreed that the complaint against the City Commission and its commissioners, a staff member of the department of transportation and a developer failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted.


Plaintiff first alleged that the proposed redevelopment violates a state statute which makes the destruction of graves a felony since the project would destroy a home site and graves belonging to her Cherokee ancestors.  The Court said that while the statute criminalizes actions that disturb graves (see, O.C.G.A. §31-21-44), it does not create a civil cause of action.


With respect to her takings claim, the Court found that she failed to allege she was physically deprived of her property to make out a valid physical takings claim, and she did not assert that she was deprived of all economically beneficial or productive use of her land.


The most interesting claim was an allegation that the International Building Maintenance Code (IBMC) was not a valid exercise of the City’s police power and that it violated the Thirteenth Amendment.  The Court found that while her complaint mentions that the IBMC is arbitrary and capricious and that it does not related to the public welfare, she did not provide any facts to support this purely legal conclusion.  Further, with respect to her constitutional claim, that as a citizen of the U.S. she should not be subject to an “international” building code because it violates the 13th Amendment by restricting her freedom and making her a “slave” to foreign governments.  The Court said that the 13th Amendment only applies in cases of slavery and involuntary servitude, and that the Plaintiff failed to explain how the IBMC has caused her to experience either of these.


Serpentfoot v Rome City Commission, 2009 WL 915248 (C.A. 11 (GA.) 4/7/2009).


The opinion can be accessed at:

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