Dana Berliner
Litigation Director

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Dana Berliner serves as Litigation Director at the Institute for Justice, where she has worked as a lawyer since 1994. She litigates property rights, economic liberty and other constitutional cases in both federal and state courts.

Among her current cases, Dana represents the Community Youth Athletic Center, a boxing gym and mentoring program for at-risk youth, which successfully challenged the City of National City's authorization of taking the CYAC's property for private development.  National City appealed after the trial court ruled that its blight authorization was invalid, that it had violated due process, and that it had violated the California Public Records Act.  Dana also represents apartment tenants and landlords in Red Wing, Minnesota, who are fighting the city’s use of administrative warrants to inspect private homes without the consent of tenants.  She also defended Carla Main and Encounter Books, who wrote and published a book about eminent domain abuse in Texas and across the country, against a defamation suit brought by a developer who stood to receive property taken by eminent domain. 

Dana represented the home and business owners in Norwood, Ohio, who, on July 26, 2006, secured a unanimous ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court that the city could not take their property for a privately owned shopping mall and "lifestyle center."  Along with co-counsel Scott Bullock, she represented the homeowners in Kelo v. New London, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that cities could condemn property because other uses may produce an increase in tax dollars and jobs. She secured a ruling that the Village of Port Chester, N.Y., violated due process in its use of eminent domain to secure waterfront property.  She has written amicus briefs on constitutional eminent domain issues in more than ten states.  She teaches many continuing legal education classes on eminent domain and public use.  She works with owners around the country in opposing the condemnation of their homes and businesses for private use and with legislatures seeking to reform abusive eminent domain laws.  From 2008 through 2011, Dana has been recognized as a "Best Lawyer" in eminent domain and condemnation law by the publication Best Lawyers in America.

On issues of economic liberty, Dana has previously secured a victory in favor of two New Orleans entrepreneurs in a federal First Amendment challenge to the City of New Orleans’ ban on sidewalk book vending. As trial counsel, Dana also secured a ruling that the Nevada Transportation Services Authority violated the rights of several would-be limousine entrepreneurs by subjecting them to an onerous and arbitrary licensing process that gave undue power to existing companies opposing competition. She also successfully represented an aspiring teacher of African hairbraiding in Mississippi, as well as two of her students, challenging restrictions on learning and teaching African hairbraiding in Mississippi.

Dana authored Opening the Floodgates:  Eminent Domain Abuse in the Post-Kelo World, a report on the use and threatened use of eminent domain for private development in the year since the Kelo decision.  Dana also authored Public Power, Private Gain: A Five-Year, State-by-State Report Examining the Abuse of Eminent Domain, the first-ever nationwide study on the abuse of eminent domain, released in 2003.

Her ideas have been quoted in The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, NPR and The Washington Post as well as on various radio and television broadcasts, including 60 Minutes.

Dana received her law and undergraduate degrees from Yale University where she was a member of the Yale Law Journal and represented clients through the legal services program. After law school, she clerked for Judge Jerry Smith on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.


Dana Berliner is a member of the DC and Pennsylvania bars.

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Institute for Justice
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