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Personal Liberties

Nemhauser v. City of Mount Dora

Couple faces bureaucratic “Sorrow” for “Starry Night” mural

What started as artistic expression in Mount Dora, Florida, has escalated into a bureaucratic nightmare for Nancy Nemhauser and Lubomir Jastrzebski. When the couple painted a Van Gogh-style “Starry Night” mural on a wall outside their house, the city declared the art “graffiti” because it didn’t match the color of the house. But when Nancy and Lubomir responded by painting a similar mural on the house, the city branded both as illegal “signs,” and fined them $3,100 with orders to paint over the mural. On behalf of Nancy and Lubomir, PLF is challenging the city. We argue that banning such artistic murals is an abusive interpretation of the city’s sign ordinance, and violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

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Personal Liberties

Vaping Litigation

The Constitution going up in vapor

Electronic nicotine delivery systems—vaping devices and e-cigarettes—first hit U.S. stores in 2007. It didn’t take long for vaping to jump from zero to a $5 billion domestic industry, as entrepreneurs quickly recognized a market hungry for an alternative to traditional cigarettes. In 2016, just as the burgeoning vaping industry was getting off the ground, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stepped in with a rule that deems e-cigarettes as tobacco products, and brand new, severe regulations that will only harm the industry and perhaps overall public health—contrary to the agency’s very mission. Using a unique legal theory, Pacific Legal Foundation is suing the FDA in three separate federal courtrooms—at the same time—on behalf of vape store owners and a harm reduction organization in several states who want to promote a more healthy alternative to smoking. The unconstitutional rule burdens these individuals and organizations in unique ways, but all are united in opposition to its continued enforcement. The FDA’s regulations are not only expensive and onerous, and prevent vaping entrepreneurs from fulfilling what they believe is a humanitarian mission of helping people, but the rule was illegal the second it hit the Federal Register.

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Property Rights

Waters of the United States

Unanimous U.S. Supreme Court victory for PLF and property rights

In 2015 PLF challenged the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule to stretch federal control to nearly every pond, ditch, and puddle in the nation as nothing more than an outrageous—and illegal—power grab under cover of the Clean Water Act. And under the Act, people who are harmed by such rules have six years to sue in federal district court. That is, until the EPA rewrote the rule, trying to prevent legal action by giving property owners just 120 days to sue, and then only in federal appellate courts. On January 22, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the EPA’s power play and unanimously ruled for PLF and property rights. The High Court agreed with PLF that the EPA cannot shelter its “waters of the United States” rule from judicial review by arbitrarily limiting where victims can sue.

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Latest Blog Posts

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By James S. Burling

Weekly litigation update — February 24, 2018

  • Federal judge grants temporary restraining order against Mount Dora over Starry Night mural 
  • Does the California ESA extend to your neighborhood squirrel population?
  • PLF opposes Seattle’s attempt to levy an unconstitutional “wealth tax”
  • Supreme Court declines to review important timber sale case
  • Opening brief challenging Seattle’s newfangled campaign-finance program
  • Oral argument over whether Seattle can ban landlords from selecting their own tenants

Federal judge grants temporary restraining order against Mount Dora over Starry Night mural 

Image result for starry night mt dora

This week, we filed a challenge to Mount Dora, Florida’s sign code in the District Court for the Middle District of Florida, along

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By Timothy R. Snowball

Government of the bureaucrats, by the bureaucrats, and for the bureaucrats

The American Republic is in the midst of a constitutional crisis. The size, scope, and power of the modern administrative state has far surpassed even the direst imaginings of the … ›

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By Damien M. Schiff

New brief in California Coho listing challenge

Yesterday PLF filed an amicus letter urging the California Supreme Court to grant review in Central Coast Forest Association v Fish & Game Commission In this case, the California court of appeal upheld (on remand from the state’s high court*) the Commission’s decision to protect various ephemeral and hatchery-dependent populations of Coho salmon that dwell in creeks and streams south of San Francisco The Association argued among other things that protecting these populations under the California Endangered Species Act is illegal, because they are not native to the area, and in fact persist today only because of hatcheries that use out-of-state stock**  The court of appeal, however,

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By Ethan W. Blevins

Seattle clashes with the First Amendment

Today, we filed the opening brief on appeal in Elster v City of Seattle, our legal challenge to Seattle’s program that forces taxpayers to pay for private individuals’ campaign contributions Seattle calls this a “democracy voucher” program

Here’s how it works: the city hands out four $25 vouchers to each Seattle resident at the beginning of an election year The voucher holder then decides which electoral candidates to donate that money to The voucher funds in turn come from a special levy imposed on property owners for that sole purpose In other words, the program forces property owners to underwrite other

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By Jeremy Talcott

Federal judge grants temporary restraining order against city over Starry Night mural

This morning, a federal judge granted our motion for a temporary restraining order against the City of Mount Dora. This puts the $100 a day fines on hold until we have … ›

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By Jeremy Talcott

Family files federal complaint to save their “Starry Night” mural

Today we filed this complaint against the City of Mount Dora, along with emergency motions asking for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the city. We alleged that the … ›

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By Timothy R. Snowball

Lawmakers threaten future of CA homeschooling

When state legislators attempt to enact laws that burden or break our constitutional rights, they often cite concerns related to the “health, safety, and welfare” of the public. And while … ›

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By Wen Fa

PLF events on Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky

On February 28, PLF will present oral argument in an important First Amendment case before the Supreme Court of the United States. In Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, PLF is … ›

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By James S. Burling

Weekly litigation report — February 17, 2018

  • Good schools for all – regardless of race
  • Florida court sides with NIMBYs and against property rights
  • Indiana Supreme Court loses its way in public trust doctrine case
  • Corps cannot treat permafrost as navigable waters
  • EPA ignores PLF advice on CRA and WOTUS

Good schools for all – regardless of race

Representing seven families, PLF filed a complaint against the State of Connecticut to ensure that Black and Hispanic students have the same educational opportunities as all children in the State The case involves the City of Hartford’s world-class magnet schools These schools are so successful that demand outstrips the schools’ capacity, and a lottery is used to decide

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