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Month: August 2017

August 31, 2017

Article: are critical area buffers unconstitutional?

Today, the Seattle Journal of Environmental Law published my article, Are Critical Area Buffers Unconstitutional? Demystifying The Doctrine of Unconstitutional Conditions. Although the article focuses on developments in Washington state law, it contains arguments relevant to property rights practitioners elsewhere. For example, the article explains ...

August 31, 2017

Does President Trump know that his Administration is blocking an important Michigan road project?

On behalf of its client the Marquette County Road Commission, PLF filed its Reply Brief in Marquette County Road Commission v. EPA. ...

August 31, 2017

Seattle’s tax on achievement is a Trojan Horse that threatens the poor and middle class

One of the things that makes Washington's legal landscape so unique is that the state constitution was drafted by people who, having just witnessed the Civil War, were wary of state and federal government. As a result, our constitution provides many protections rarely found elsewhere in the country, such as a provision prohibiting the government fr ...

August 31, 2017

New Jersey goes all in on the Constitution in sports betting case

Can Congress dictate to states what their own laws must be? Anyone familiar with federalism will likely immediately say "no." Our Founders drafted a Constitution that preserved the independence of the the states, believing that dividing power between the federal government and the states would be a bulwark to protect our liberty. To preserve the Fo ...

August 30, 2017

Adverse decision in Alaska wetlands case

This morning, the Ninth Circuit upheld the Army Corps of Engineers' Clean Water Act jurisdiction over the Fairbanks, Alaska, property of our client, Universal Welding. The case, Universal Welding & Fabrication Co. v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, addressed a rarely invoked exception to the agency's Clean Water Act jurisdiction over wetlan ...

August 30, 2017

Four-year-old boy banned from school for having long hair

Jessica Oates is the single mother of Jabez, a four-year-old boy who was excited to start his first day of school. Unfortunately, administrators at Barbers Hill ISD in Texas told the 25-year-old mom that Jabez wasn’t allowed to attend. This wasn’t because Jabez resided in a different district or didn’t have the necessary paperwor ...

August 30, 2017

Should a business owner recover economic damages when the government condemns his property?

In a brief filed earlier today, PLF attorneys urge the U.S. Supreme Court to answer this important question concerning the Fifth Amendment's guarantee that property shall not be taken without payment of just compensation. In the past, the U.S. Supreme Court instructed that a dispossessed owner must be put in "as good position pecuniarily as ...

August 29, 2017

Ninth Circuit poses tough questions to government in Robertson argument

Today’s Ninth Circuit oral argument in U.S. v. Robertson produced an interesting series of exchanges between the Justice Department appellate attorney and Ninth Circuit Judges Gould and McKeown. A key issue in the case, as I laid out in this morning’s post, is whether the Clean Water Act’s counter-intuitive definition of “na ...

August 29, 2017

Ninth Circuit hears appeal from elderly man jailed for building ponds

Today the Ninth Circuit is hearing oral argument in U.S. v. Robertson. Joseph Robertson is presently incarcerated in federal prison in Colorado, serving an 18 month sentence for building two ponds on land owned by the Forest Service in Montana. He is 78 years old. One of the counts for which Mr. Robertson was imprisoned ...

August 28, 2017

California argues it can silence speech so long as it's super secretive about it

When the government engages in shady, unconstitutional behavior, it’s usually not forthcoming about it.  As courts have observed, "the government rarely flatly admits,” for example, that “it is engaging in viewpoint discrimination."  Instead, it cloaks its discriminatory policies in “neutral” language, and asserts th ...