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Personal Liberties

Robinson v. Wentzell

Required by state law, race-based quotas at Hartford, Connecticut, magnet schools deny Black and Hispanic students’ civil rights and chances for high-quality education.

Representing seven families, PLF sued to ensure that Black and Hispanic students have the same educational opportunities as all children in Connecticut. The City of Hartford runs a number of world-class magnet schools. These schools are so successful that demand outstrips the schools’ capacity, and a lottery is used to decide who can attend. But because state law imposes racial quotas on these schools—enrollment must be at least 25% White or Asian—Black and Hispanic students are denied admission if their enrollment at a school would raise minority enrollment above 75%—even if it means seats remain empty.

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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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Personal Liberties

Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky

U.S. Supreme Court will review Minnesota’s fashion (non)sense

On February 28, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in our case challenging a Minnesota election law that literally strips free speech rights from the backs of voters. A Minnesota state law prohibits voters from wearing “political” apparel at a polling place. This includes any t-shirt, button, or other item that identifies any political issue and even any organization that is known to take positions on political issues. Voters who wear AFL-CIO or NRA caps are told they must remove them before they can enter the polling place and vote. If they refuse, election officials take their names for possible prosecution and penalties up to $5,000. Lower courts upheld this law on the theory that government can ban all expression, besides voting, at a polling place.

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Latest Blog Posts

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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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By Timothy R. Snowball

Florida Supreme Court: You can’t grow vegetables on your own property.

The right to possess and use private property is a fundamental right protected by the U.S. and state constitutions, the origins of which precede the founding of our Republic. Growing … ›

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By Mark Miller

Indiana Supreme Court loses its way in public trust doctrine case

The states bordering the Great Lakes have long tried to wrest control of private beachfront property from the owners of the property in favor of “the public.” That the private … ›

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By Anthony L. Francois

EPA ignores PLF advice on Congressional Review Act and WOTUS

Last year, following President Trump’s executive order directing EPA to rewrite its disastrous 2015 regulation which magically redefined millions of acres of dry land across the nation as federally protected navigable waterways, PLF offered EPA some advice, not only on how to rewrite the rule to make it conform to the limits of the Clean Water Act, but also how to make it stand the test of time through strategic use of the Congressional Review Act As reported yesterday by E&E News (subscription required), EPA never responded to our advice, and now the agency is in a quandary over how to carry out the President’s instructions

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By Jeffrey W. McCoy

Corps cannot treat permafrost as navigable waters

Today, PLF filed an opening brief in the Ninth Circuit in Tin Cup, LLC v. Army Corps of Engineers. The case is brought by a small, family-owned pipe fabrication company … ›

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By Timothy R. Snowball

Congressional Effort to End Unconstitutional Campus “Free Speech Zones”

As an alumnus of the University of California, Berkeley, the struggle of activist leader Mario Savio and other student leaders who championed the Berkeley-born “Free Speech Movement” are well known … ›

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By James S. Burling

Weekly update — February 10, 2018

Coastal Property Owners argue that they do not need to jump through meaningless hoops to vindicate their rights Eleventh Circuit hears PLF in takings case Does forcing phone-sellers to post … ›

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By Timothy R. Snowball

Santa Barbara: “Waive your Fourth Amendment rights or you can’t sell your house.”

According to James Madison, “as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.” Property rights … ›

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