President's Weekly Report – October 19, 2012
Environment — Endangered Species and Ancient Habitat
The States District Court for the District of Columbia dealt a blow to the Center for Biological Diversity’s continuing quest to shepherd western civilization back to the paleolithic in Colorado Cutthroat Trout v. Salazar. CBD had sued the Fish and Wildlife Service arguing that the trout should be listed because it was absent in its historic range, as opposed to where it exists in relative abundance today. This is like saying the deer are endangered because they don’t live in Manhattan. Fortunately, the court agreed with the arguments we laid out in our amicus brief.
Fishing in the paleolithic.
Environment — Clean Air Zealotry from California
We submitted this PLF comment letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Under the Clean Air Act, in order to promulgate air quality regulations stricter than the federal standard, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is supposed to prove that there are “compelling and extraordinary” conditions in California. In this case, in its attempt to impose draconian standards for off-road machinery, CARB failed miserably to make the case. PLF’s comment letter, filed on behalf of a group of farming, logging, and construction interests, points this out and urges EPA not to grant the waiver.
Property Rights — Washington State
We filed our amicus brief in Samson v. City of Bainbridge Island, which involves a challenge to the City’s use of a “rolling moratorium” against shoreline development. A state court ultimately found the moratorium to be unlawful but refused to award damages to injured landowners. We are supporting the landowner’s petition for a writ of certiorari, asking the United States Supreme Court to review whether ultra vires (illegal) land use regulations violate the Constitution’s protection of “substantive due process.” In other words, because the Constitution protects citizens against unjustifiable laws, this illegal regulation violates the Constitution. We are also asking the Court to take this case in order to clarify just how bad a law must be before it is seen to violate the constitution — specifically must it be “arbitrary and irrational” as some lower courts have said or “egregious and conscience-shocking” as others have suggested.
Equality Under the Law — Public Contracting
We filed briefs this week on various motions in Coral Construction v. City and County of San Francisco. As you may recall, after upholding Proposition 209, the California Supreme Court remanded the case back to trial court to give the City one last shot to try to prove San Francisco has been engaged in intentional discrimination against women and minority contractors. The City must prove that such purposeful discrimination would justify a court order to grant preferences because this only exception to Proposition 209 that the City can try to claim. We are the midst of summary judgment proceedings and we are optimistic.
Economic Liberties Project — Crony Capitalism Vindicated in Georgia
This week in WMW Inc. v. American Honda Motor Company, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld an anti-competitive regulation that prohibits car dealerships from opening competing dealerships within eight miles of an existing storefront. We had filed an amicus brief suggesting that a dealership’s repair facility should not be forced to close down because it was closer than eight miles to another dealer’s Honda showroom. Alas, we lost and as our blog pointed out, the Court went out of its way to justify its anti-consumer and anti-capitalist stance.