RIVIERA BEACH — Fane Lozman fought the law and the law won … sorta.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Lozman’s final appeal in a case involving the “arrest” and eventual destruction of his floating home under maritime law by Riviera Beach authorities.
It was a loss following on the heels of a win. The case Lozman brought after the 2010 demolition of his houseboat led to a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that federal maritime law could not be applied to floating structures bearing no discernible characteristics of vessels (e.g. an engine, rudder, sails, etc.)
According to Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote for the court’s 7-2 majority: “Not every floating structure is a boat”
“To state the obvious, a wooden washtub, a plastic dishpan, a swimming platform on pontoons, a large fishing net, a door taken off its hinges, or Pinocchio (when inside the whale) are not ‘vessels,'” Breyer wrote.
Under the ruling, a houseboat such as Lozman’s would be exempt from the seizure and destruction it underwent at the hands of Riviera Beach authorities.
Lozman, a self-styled “corruption fighting activist,” had prevailed!
Unfortunately, Riviera Beach did not pony up the $365,000 Lozman sought for his home’s value and his legal fees, arguing that their actions were in line with the laws prior to the 2013 ruling. Lower courts agreed, and Monday’s Supreme Court ruling was Lozman’s last shot.
“I am disappointed that the lower courts were allowed to ignore the clear ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in my case without any corrective action being imposed,” the water-dwelling insurgent declared via e-mail. “Equal justice under law, engraved above the entrance to the Supreme Court, unfortunately, did not happen this time around.”
Although the message may come across as mopey and dispirited, Lozman is still fighting the good fight and hasn’t abandoned his conviction that, “People have the right to live on the water.” His peculiar insistence at continuing to wage his aquatic campaign has led to his purchase of approximately 25 acres of mostly submerged land near West Palm Beach, very close to President Donald Trump’s now infamous Mar-a-Lago resort.
Lozman’s current ambition is to build a floating stilt home community on his land. Many nearby residents are not thrilled, with complaints directed to elected officials ranging in everything from concerns about marine life to simple distaste at having Lozman in their community.
“My noble fight to continue to fight political corruption in Palm Beach County will continue,” Lozman, undeterred, went on to say in his e-mail.
On the plus side, an influx of sea-dwellers would mean that many more taxpayers to help diffuse the cost of the president’s unending South Florida visits.