Thursday, October 06, 2011

BREAKING: Barnes Friends Lose

The Barnes Friends' latest challenge to the move has failed.  The decision is here.  As predicted, not only did they lose, they've also been sanctioned.  Some highlights:
  • This dismissal was, unsurprisingly, on standing grounds.  The Court said "presently, we have essentially the same party [as in the 2008 petition] making exactly the same argument.  This is well-trod ground, and we must reach the same conclusion as we did in 2008. ...  The law of standing in matters involving charities is crystal clear and forecloses the possibility of the Friends' pursuing the instant petition."
  • On the question of the Attorney General's supposed lack of "neutrality," the Friends "offered no case or other authority in support of this theory of mandatory impartiality."  The AG argues that its actions were "part and parcel of its responsibilities under the law that helped achieve a result that was in the best interest of the people of the Commonwealth.  We have no basis for finding fault in this stance."  Exactly.
  • The Court points out that the "multimillion dollar appropriation" that opponents of the move go on and on about "is not news" and was explicitly discussed in the 2008 opinion.  I made the same point here (see second update in particular).  It adds that "the perception that this appropriation is a smoking gun in this matter has always left the Court somewhat mystified.  The appropriation was earmarked to fund a new building for The Foundation in Philadelphia.  Surely, even the most vehement critics of our decision in 2004 do not believe that, had the existence of the budget item been known at the hearings, the Court could have directed the legislature to redirect the funds to the existing gallery in Merion or sent The Foundation off with instructions to accomplish this on its own."
  • A second, related petition filed by Richard Feudale "merit[ed] little discussion."  He, "as an attorney, must be cognizant of the chaos that would ensue if anyone with an opinion about The Barnes Foundation was permited to be heard.  Simply put, he lacks standing ...."
  • On the question of attorneys fees, the Court sanctions both Feudale (whose filing is "the epitome of vaxatious, arbitrary and bad faith conduct") and the Friends, whose "resurrection of the budget appropriation item as a basis for standing, which this Court rejected in 2008, renders their filing sanctionable as well."
More later.