That hard fought case, Palazzolo v. RI, was ultimately heard before the US Supreme Court. With the help of attorneys from the Pacific Legal Foundation (notably James Burling), Palazzolo established the right to challenge unconstitutionally invasive property regulations even if those regulations existed before a property owner acquired his/her property.
In Palazzolo’s case, of course, none of the regulations existed when he bought the property. However, expiration of the family corporation he chartered to develop the property was seized on by the state as an excuse to deny Palazzolo the right to develop.
As often happens, his fame at the US Supreme Court was not followed by fortune on remand back home. A state court ultimately asserted the equally constitutionally vacuous theory that the development was a “nuisance” in denying development of all but one lot. In essence, the state court held that, without paying so much as one cent, the state had somehow acquired an easement to utilize Palazzolo’s property to rid the waters of Winnapaug Pond of effluence from the many other existing homes on its edge.
“Tony Palazzolo stood for that most American of principles,” noted Brian Bishop, special advisor to the Stephen Hopkins Center, “in that those in every political and economic walk of life should be supported in their defense of their basic rights, and how battling for these rights can literally cast anyone as David vs. Goliath when the populist will, or its purported expression by politicians, proposes to trample those rights.”
A loving, if curmudgeonly, father, Anthony Palazzolo, leaves his wife Josephine and children, Christine, Michele, Michael, Mary, Teresa and Anthony Jr., a family sometimes stressed by his lifelong commitment to the case but determined that justice should ultimately be done for their husband and father.
His passing will be observed at a wake from 4-7 PM on Tuesday, Nov. 8th at the Gaffney Dolan Funeral Home on Spruce St. in Westerly, and a Funeral Mass at 10:00 AM on Wednesday, Nov. 9th at The Immaculate Conception Church on High St. in Westerly followed by burial and a reception in Westerly. His friends, family and ‘followers’ are encouraged to attend and to make their feelings known to those surviving this legend.
The Stephen Hopkins Center intends to endow an annual prize in memory of Anthony Palazzolo, in recognition of the great personal sacrifice he and his family made to stand up for the most basic of rights, a cause which unfortunately requires eternal vigilance.