Go Back  DVD Talk Forum > General Discussions > Other Talk > Religion, Politics and World Events
Reload this Page >

Are lawns constitutional? If only Frankturfer or Dougrass were still on the court...

Religion, Politics and World Events They make great dinner conversation, don't you think? plus Political Film

Are lawns constitutional? If only Frankturfer or Dougrass were still on the court...

Old 04-02-18, 07:43 PM
  #1  
Political Exile
Thread Starter
 
grundle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 16,296
Are lawns constitutional? If only Frankturfer or Dougrass were still on the court...

Janice Duffner lives in St. Peters, Missouri, where she owns a house. Because she is allergic to grass, she does not have any in her yard. She does have other plants, which she is not allergic to. The Kansas City Star published a photograph of her yard in the article below (I have spoilerized the image due to its size).

Six years after Ms. Duffner bought her house, the city passed a law that requires all houses to have grass in their yard. After Ms. Duffner told the city that she was allergic to grass, the city threatened her with 20 years in prison and fines totaling $180,000 if she does not comply.

U.S. District Judge John A. Ross recently ruled against Ms. Duffner. Ms. Duffner plans to appeal this ruling. I hope she wins.


http://www.kansascity.com/news/state...207665734.html

Turf war: Court says Missouri couple must plant grass, even though wife is allergic

April 2, 2018
Spoiler:



Janice and Carl Duffner's yard in St. Peters, Mo., is planted with flowers because she is allergic to grass.

A Missouri couple decided to turn their entire yard into a flower garden.

It turns out, that was against a city ordinance, which says half of residents' yards must be grass turf.

But the wife is allergic to grass.

Now a federal judge has ruled: tough.

So Janice and Carl Duffner are vowing to fight on.

Their city of St. Peters, near St. Louis, put the Duffners on notice that they must comply with the law.

The Duffners said at the time they filed their civil rights action in late 2016 they were subject to penalties of $180,000 and 20 years in jail for non-compliance.

"If the city is permitted to impose draconian fines and imprisonment simply because a citizen chooses to cultivate on their own private property lawful, harmless plants of their own choosing instead of a potentially harmful plant of the government's choosing, there is no longer any principled limit to the government's control over either the property or the owners," the Duffners' complaint stated.

The Duffners bought their home in 2002 and began landscaping that included planting beds, two small ponds, pathways and seating areas. The St. Peters Board of Aldermen adopted the turf ordinance in 2008. At some point, an unidentified person complained to the city that the Duffners had no grass.

The Duffners asked for an exemption but were denied. Instead, the Board of Adjustment in 2014 told them to plant at least 5 percent of their property with grass. They refused.

In its response to the federal complaint, the city noted that the Duffners had first gone to circuit court in St. Charles County and had lost there because they had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. After a mixed ruling from the Missouri Court of Appeals, the Duffners turned to federal court.

U.S. District Judge John A. Ross last week ruled for the city, saying the Duffners "have failed to identify a fundamental right that is restricted by the Turf Grass Ordinance." The judge said the Supreme Court has held that "aesthetic considerations constitute a legitimate government purpose."

Ross also said the Duffners failed to demonstrate that the penalties for violating the turf ordinance are excessive and contrary to the Eighth Amendment.

The Duffners' attorney, David Roland of the Freedom Center of Missouri, told the Riverfront Times that the couple will appeal.

"My estimation is that this is one of the most important property rights cases in the country right now," he said. "We're going to go all hands on deck."
grundle is offline  
Old 04-02-18, 08:19 PM
  #2  
Moderator
 
Groucho's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Posts: 70,829
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Why waste time and money on a prison sentence? Death penalty. NOW.
Groucho is offline  
Old 04-02-18, 09:47 PM
  #3  
DVD Talk Hero
 
JasonF's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 39,473
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
Why waste time and money on a prison sentence? Death penalty. NOW.
I think capital punishment is probably excessive, but you could at least ban him.
JasonF is offline  
Old 04-02-18, 10:02 PM
  #4  
DVD Talk Legend
 
dsa_shea's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Posts: 19,680
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Spend the money that they would to incarcerate her and help her get some artificial grass for her yard. Gotta keep those prisons packed for profit.
dsa_shea is offline  
Old 04-02-18, 10:11 PM
  #5  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Sonic's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 1999
Posts: 18,154
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Originally Posted by dsa_shea View Post
Spend the money that they would to incarcerate her and help her get some artificial grass for her yard. Gotta keep those prisons packed for profit.


-------

Surely this piece of shit state has to make an exception for this woman. It's morally wrong to jail her because she don't want grass on her property which is hazardous for her health.

Are we America or Iraq?
Sonic is online now  
Old 04-02-18, 10:24 PM
  #6  
DVD Talk Legend
 
spainlinx0's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: NJ
Posts: 14,775
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Worse, Missouri.
spainlinx0 is offline  
Old 04-02-18, 10:35 PM
  #7  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Vibiana's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Living in a van down by the river
Posts: 13,853
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

I was born in Missouri and lived there for the first 32 years of my life. Shit like this is why I'll never leave Kansas, sucky as IT is.
Vibiana is offline  
Old 04-02-18, 11:50 PM
  #8  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Abob Teff's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Not necessarily Formerly known as Solid Snake
Posts: 20,272
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
I think capital punishment is probably excessive, but you could at least ban him.
Sorry grundle, that was freakin' funny!

Originally Posted by dsa_shea View Post
Spend the money that they would to incarcerate her and help her get some artificial grass for her yard. Gotta keep those prisons packed for profit.
When I was on our village board, I suggested something similar to this at one point. It cost about $200 to provide a dumpster for a resident to use to clean up his/her property. Pursuing a negligent property owner started with a letter from our attorney which cost $250 and the costs just spiraled from there as most cases simply became pissing matches.

It makes more sense fiscally and in terms of serving your residents to provide them with assistance rather than persecution. The way my fellow aldermen reacted, you would have thought I suggested we buy the property and fix it up for the property owner. (But then, these are the same aldermen who insisted on allowing landlords to keep profiting while the village took the losses for the landlords' tenants who skipped out on utility bills.)

Admittedly I am not familiar with Missouri law and municipal code, but in Illinois you cannot receive jail time or prison time for ordinance violations. Municipalities cannot pass "laws" -- they can only pass ordinances.

The other thing I noticed in the article was that they passed this ordinance 6 years AFTER she had bought her property and swapped the grass out for other flora.
Abob Teff is offline  
Old 04-03-18, 12:09 AM
  #9  
DVD Talk Hero
 
JasonF's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 39,473
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

A few thoughts.

First of all, I actually read the opinion in this case. Here's what happened.

The City of St. Peters had an ordnance stating that yards must be at least 50% grass. The Duffners went to the City's Board of Zoning Adjustment, and the Board granted a variance to 5% grass. The Duffners refused to comply with that and filed a lawsuit in state court. The state court case was dismissed because the Duffners hadn't bothered to exhaust the city's zoning process before running to court, and because the Duffners claimed the ordnance violated their rights, but hadn't specified what rights they thought were being violated. So the Duffners then ran to federal court. The Federal Court said, in essence "a) we're not going to let you do an end-run around the state court, and b) there's a rational basis for the turf grass ordnance, so you can't have it declared unconstitutional."

So, you have a couple who doesn't like a local law -- fine, that's their right. So rather than work through the process, they run to court, and when they don't like what the first court tells them (in essence "Stop whining and work through the system"), they run to a second court.

Second of all,

Who.

Fucking.

Cares.

This is one stubborn couple and one stubborn city. Why the fuck does this get its own thread? It sure would be great if the user who posted this offered his opinions on why I'm supposed to care about this couple, or this case. Why is he posting about this one and not, for example, Crystal Mason, whose legal troubles have much more impactful implications for society as a whole.
JasonF is offline  
Old 04-03-18, 12:56 AM
  #10  
Psi
DVD Talk Hall of Fame
 
Psi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Texas
Posts: 9,299
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Why the fuck does this get its own thread? It sure would be great if the user who posted this offered his opinions on why I'm supposed to care about this couple, or this case.
So, ok to shoot him?
Psi is offline  
Old 04-03-18, 04:10 AM
  #11  
Banned
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 21,582
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Originally Posted by Abob Teff View Post
Sorry grundle, that was freakin' funny!
I thought so, too, until I realized that the commentator was serious (on all counts).

(Also chuckled at your own "When I was on our village board"...picturing a group of quaintly-dressed residents of The Shire sitting around an oaken table with flagons of ale and long-stemmed pipes in hand).

As for the lady in question, I'd just apply the Harry Reid tax compliance philosophy to the larger judicial system and remind her that compliance with all laws in the USA is "voluntary."
creekdipper is offline  
Old 04-03-18, 08:04 AM
  #12  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Josh-da-man's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: The Bible Belt
Posts: 31,033
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Originally Posted by Vibiana View Post
I was born in Missouri and lived there for the first 32 years of my life. Shit like this is why I'll never leave Kansas, sucky as IT is.
At least you got rid of Fuckback.
Josh-da-man is offline  
Old 04-03-18, 09:33 AM
  #13  
Banned
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 21,582
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Originally Posted by Josh-da-man View Post
At least you got rid of Fuckback.
Zuckerberg no longer allowed in Missouri?
creekdipper is offline  
Old 04-03-18, 11:35 AM
  #14  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Hail to the Redskins!
Posts: 24,761
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
A few thoughts.

First of all, I actually read the opinion in this case. Here's what happened.

The City of St. Peters had an ordnance stating that yards must be at least 50% grass. The Duffners went to the City's Board of Zoning Adjustment, and the Board granted a variance to 5% grass. The Duffners refused to comply with that and filed a lawsuit in state court. The state court case was dismissed because the Duffners hadn't bothered to exhaust the city's zoning process before running to court, and because the Duffners claimed the ordnance violated their rights, but hadn't specified what rights they thought were being violated. So the Duffners then ran to federal court. The Federal Court said, in essence "a) we're not going to let you do an end-run around the state court, and b) there's a rational basis for the turf grass ordnance, so you can't have it declared unconstitutional."

So, you have a couple who doesn't like a local law -- fine, that's their right. So rather than work through the process, they run to court, and when they don't like what the first court tells them (in essence "Stop whining and work through the system"), they run to a second court.
Jason is 100% correct with his analysis. Stupidity begets more stupidity.
DVD Josh is offline  
Old 04-03-18, 11:36 AM
  #15  
Political Exile
Thread Starter
 
grundle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 16,296
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
Why waste time and money on a prison sentence? Death penalty. NOW.
Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
I think capital punishment is probably excessive, but you could at least ban him.
Originally Posted by Abob Teff View Post
Sorry grundle, that was freakin' funny!

I think it's funny too!
grundle is offline  
Old 04-03-18, 11:47 AM
  #16  
Political Exile
Thread Starter
 
grundle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 16,296
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
The City of St. Peters had an ordnance stating that yards must be at least 50% grass. The Duffners went to the City's Board of Zoning Adjustment, and the Board granted a variance to 5% grass.

For someone with an allergy, that doesn't necessarily make much of a difference.



Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
So, you have a couple who doesn't like a local law -- fine, that's their right. So rather than work through the process, they run to court, and when they don't like what the first court tells them (in essence "Stop whining and work through the system"), they run to a second court.

The "system" is totalitarian, corrupt, bureaucratic, and expensive. She should not have to "work through" such a system to avoid exposing herself to something that she is allergic to. Just regular common sense should be enough to let her not have grass on her lawn.



Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Who.

Fucking.

Cares.

This is one stubborn couple and one stubborn city. Why the fuck does this get its own thread? It sure would be great if the user who posted this offered his opinions on why I'm supposed to care about this couple, or this case. Why is he posting about this one and not, for example, Crystal Mason, whose legal troubles have much more impactful implications for society as a whole.

I gave this its own thread because I believe that, simply as a matter of principle, it is a big deal.

You thought it was important enough to write a significant length reply.
grundle is offline  
Old 04-03-18, 11:49 AM
  #17  
Political Exile
Thread Starter
 
grundle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 16,296
Re: Are lawns constitutional? If only Frankturfer or Dougrass were still on the court

My original title for this thread was something along the lines of, "Woman with grass allergy could get 20 years prison for not having grass on lawn."

But a mod changed it.
grundle is offline  
Old 04-03-18, 11:56 AM
  #18  
Political Exile
Thread Starter
 
grundle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 16,296
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Originally Posted by DVD Josh View Post
Jason is 100% correct with his analysis. Stupidity begets more stupidity.

Just because the woman wants to be free of something that she is allergic to without having to go through a massive amount of bureaucracy, time, and expense, does not mean that she is "stupid."

Why not just let common sense prevail on this one?

Who exactly would be harmed if the city just dropped all the charges and let this woman decide what kinds of plants she puts on her own lawn?

This isn't just about a lawn. It's also about the fact that some people want to stick the government's nose into the tiniest aspects of people's lives.
grundle is offline  
Old 04-03-18, 12:03 PM
  #19  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Rosemount, MN
Posts: 31,465
Re: Are lawns constitutional? If only Frankturfer or Dougrass were still on the court

I'd want to see how close the neighbors' lawns are. On one side of my house, the neighbor's grass is literally two feet from my house.

I think the 5% sounds like a reasonable accommodation that they just didn't want to do.
Draven is offline  
Old 04-03-18, 12:19 PM
  #20  
DVD Talk Hero
 
JasonF's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 39,473
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Originally Posted by grundle View Post
For someone with an allergy, that doesn't necessarily make much of a difference.
Whether the difference between 50% and 5% is significant enough to impact on her allergies is not the point. The point is that our system has processes for challenging ordnances and obtaining variances from ordnances. She didn't follow those processes all the way through so of course she's not getting relief. Is that totalitarianism? Corruption? Only a fool would think so.

As a side note, if this woman's allergies are that severe, she probably shouldn't be living in a climate where grass is commonplace. I know property rights are the be-all and end-all to you, but pollen actually doesn't respect those boundaries, and she's going to run into a hard time when every other piece of property near her house has a 50%-grass yard.

I gave this its own thread because I believe that, simply as a matter of principle, it is a big deal.

You thought it was important enough to write a significant length reply.
What you choose to focus on says a lot about your principles.

I don't think this issue is particularly important. I think how your threads impact this forum is -- not in the grand scheme of things, but certainly with respect to how usable this forum is.
JasonF is offline  
Old 04-03-18, 12:59 PM
  #21  
DVD Talk Reviewer/ Admin
 
Adam Tyner's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Greenville, South Cackalack
Posts: 21,613
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
As a side note, if this woman's allergies are that severe, she probably shouldn't be living in a climate where grass is commonplace.
I find that baffling as well. I wonder if her 'allergy' is anything like my younger sister droning on and on about how allergic she was to cigarette smoke, making a big show of it whenever relatives would smoke around her, only to be a heavy smoker herself a couple years later.
Adam Tyner is online now  
Old 04-03-18, 02:28 PM
  #22  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
GreenMonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 5,366
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Originally Posted by Adam Tyner View Post
I find that baffling as well. I wonder if her 'allergy' is anything like my younger sister droning on and on about how allergic she was to cigarette smoke, making a big show of it whenever relatives would smoke around her, only to be a heavy smoker herself a couple years later.
Kinda what came to mind to me too.



Sure lady, the reduction from 5% to 0% is totally gonna help ya.
GreenMonkey is offline  
Old 04-03-18, 03:04 PM
  #23  
Banned by request
 
Supermallet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Termite Terrace
Posts: 54,156
Re: Woman allergic to grass could get 20 years prison for not having grass in her yar

Originally Posted by Adam Tyner View Post
I find that baffling as well. I wonder if her 'allergy' is anything like my younger sister droning on and on about how allergic she was to cigarette smoke, making a big show of it whenever relatives would smoke around her, only to be a heavy smoker herself a couple years later.
So you’re saying that this woman will end up smoking grass? Probably a good solution for everyone involved.
Supermallet is offline  
Old 04-03-18, 03:04 PM
  #24  
DVD Talk Legend
 
AGuyNamedMike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: (formerly known as Inglenook Hampendick) Fairbanks, Alaska!
Posts: 15,227
Re: Are lawns constitutional? If only Frankturfer or Dougrass were still on the court

Here are a couple things that do not work well for people with grass allergies:

Planting rocks instead of grass. Grass pollen floats in the air for hundreds of miles, so what’s in your yard is relatively unimportant. It’s the tall grass growing in fields and ditches that sends out pollens.

There’s actually no populated area in the world without grasses, except in Greenland. And relocating there may not be so practical.
Hmmm...
AGuyNamedMike is offline  
Old 04-03-18, 03:14 PM
  #25  
Banned
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 21,582
Re: Are lawns constitutional? If only Frankturfer or Dougrass were still on the court

Originally Posted by grundle View Post
My original title for this thread was something along the lines of, "Woman with grass allergy could get 20 years prison for not having grass on lawn."

But a mod changed it.
Expect "Fake News" to be next.
creekdipper is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.