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Kotler v. Webb

California’s next frontier as speech police: your license plate

Jon Kotler is a First Amendment professor at the University of Southern California (USC). He is also a huge fan of the London-based Fulham Football Club and a longtime season ticket holder. Wishing to celebrate the team’s recent success, Jon applied for a personalized license plate with the letters “COYW,” which stands for “ ...

Connecticut Parents Union v. Wentzell

Race-based quotas in Connecticut schools hurt Black and Hispanic students

Each year, world-class magnet schools in Connecticut deny admission to thousands of deserving children while leaving available seats empty—because of skin color. State law requires magnet schools’ enrollment to be at least 25 percent white or Asian. This means Black and Hispanic students are turned away if their admission would push minorit ...

Lent v. California Coastal Commission

Massive—and unconstitutional—beach access fines threaten family home

In 2016, the Lents received the California Coastal Commission’s first ever fine—$4.185 million—for blocking public access to the beach. The home sits 20 feet above the beach and, without stairs or a ramp, the public cannot safely get to the beach. The property originally included an outdoor stairway and a gate to block the large drop—bo ...

Christa McAuliffe PTO v. de Blasio

Stopping New York’s attempt to discriminate against Asian-American students

Feeling that New York City’s eight specialized high schools contain too many Asian students, Mayor Bill de Blasio is changing an admissions program to limit the ability of students to get into predominately Asian-American schools. However, his so-called racial balancing effort will squeeze out Asian students—nearly three-quarters of whom co ...

D.M. & Z.G. v. Minnesota State High School League

Discrimination dance: “Girls only” school dance team is unconstitutional

When 16-year-old Dmitri Moua discovered dancing, he found a new way to be a part of a team and build his self-confidence. But when he wanted to join his high school’s competitive dance team, he was denied because he is a boy. Dmitri’s school is in the Minnesota State High School League—whose bylaws declare competitive dance a “g ...

Linden v. South Dakota High School Activities Association

School’s “girls-only” dance team policy is a constitutional hustle

Fifteen-year-old Freddie Linden of North Sioux Falls, South Dakota can now lace up his dancing shoes as part of his school’s competitive dance team. The accomplished dancer already competes nationally on private dance teams, but the South Dakota High School Activities Association (SDHSAA) established competitive dance as a “female-only& ...

Robinson v. Wentzell

Race-based quotas in Connecticut schools are unconstitutional and hurt Black and Hispanic students

Hartford, Connecticut, runs a number of world-class magnet schools. Their success has led to the use of a lottery to decide who can attend. But under a state-mandated racial quota, enrollment must be at least 25 percent white or Asian. This means Black and Hispanic students are turned away if their admission would push minority enrollment above 75 ...

Nemhauser v. City of Mount Dora

City apologizes after violating First Amendment rights

What started as artistic expression in Mount Dora, Florida, escalated into a bureaucratic nightmare for Nancy Nemhauser and Lubomir Jastrzebski. When the couple painted a van Gogh-style “The Starry Night” mural on a wall outside their house, the city declared the art “graffiti” because it didn’t match the color of the ...

K.J. v. Minnesota State High School League

School athletics can’t turn kids away based on their sex

Kaiden Johnson loves competitive dance, and he is a valued member of the varsity dance team at Superior High School in Superior, Wisconsin. But the team primarily competes against high schools across the river in Duluth, Minnesota—and the Minnesota State High School League has a “girls only” policy for dance teams. … ...

Elderly man in library Book Passage v. Becerra

Saving free speech one book at a time

In the wake of a First Amendment challenge by Bay Area book seller Bill Petrocelli and his renowned store, Book Passage, California has rescinded the state’s onerous “certificate of authenticity” requirement for the sale of autographed books. The regulation would have made it extremely risky, if not impossible, for stores to sell ...

Minerva Dairy v. Brancel

Wisconsin flunks constitutional law with artisanal butter grading

Minerva Dairy, and its President, Adam Mueller, are challenging a Wisconsin law that prevents butter makers from outside the state from selling their products in Wisconsin unless they go through an arduous and costly process of getting their butter “graded.” Grading has nothing to do with quality or safety; it is graded by taste, as det ...

E.L. v. Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation

Racially discriminatory law keeps talented ten-year-old boy from staying in his charter school

As part of a decades-old desegregation lawsuit settlement in St. Louis, Missouri, the Voluntary Inderdistrict Choice Corporation (VICC) enacted a policy for city and county schools that prohibits African-American students who live in the county from transferring into magnet and charter schools within the St. Louis city limits. White students may tr ...

S.S. v. Colorado River Indian Tribes

Federal law deprives American Indian children of the “best interest of the child” standard in custody determinations

Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to address the problem of unjustified removal of Indian children from their parents by “nontribal public and private agencies” and their placement in “non-Indian foster and adoptive homes and institutions.” That concern is absent in a private action for termination of pare ...

Benedetti v. County of Marin, California

Marin County adopts unconstitutional “forced farming” plan

Marin County’s new Land Use Plan requires landowners who currently use their land for agricultural purposes to remain “actively and directly engaged” in agriculture in perpetuity. This requirement is tied to building permits within the county’s agricultural zone. For PLF client Willie Benedetti, owner of Benedetti Farms and ...

Greene v. California Coastal Commission

Coastal Commission erodes property rights with unconstitutional conditions

Mark and Bella Greene challenge the California Coastal Commission’s decision to impose two conditions on the approval of a development permit to update and expand their home in Los Angeles. The first condition requires the Greenes to have a five-foot setback from their seaward property line, in conflict with Los Angeles zoning ordinances and ...

Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina; Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College

Elite universities sued over race-based discrimination against Asian applicants

Students for Fair Admissions (SFA) sued Harvard University and the University of North Carolina for discriminating against Asian-American and white students seeking admission by requiring higher grades and test scores for Asian-American and white applicants than other racial groups. These policies of racial preferences violate Title VII of the Civi ...

Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Becerra

California AG looks to create potential political enemies list

The California Attorney General – first Kamala Harris, now Xavier Becerra – demanded that Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization of a politically conservative bent, submit an unredacted IRS Form 990 Schedule B that contains the names and addresses of all donors who give $5,000 or more in a year. The group refused because s ...

Siena Corporation v. Mayor and City Council of Rockville, Maryland

Courts must not determine a law’s constitutionality based solely on government assurances of good will

Siena Corporation wanted to build a self-storage facility in Rockville, Maryland, but was thwarted when the city, at the behest of NIMBY neighbors, adopted a last-minute zoning change preventing the project. Siena sued but the district court upheld the zoning change as a “rational” exercise of the city’s police power. Siena appeal ...

Rothe Development, Inc. v. Department of Defense

Large battle to end Small Business Act discrimination

Rothe Development, a small contracting business located in Texas, submitted the lowest bid on a Defense Department contract. But because the Small Business Act creates a preference for firms owned by socially or economically disadvantaged individuals, Rothe was not awarded the contract. Rothe sued the Defense Department and the Small Business Admin ...

Cedar Point Nursery v. Gould

In California, union organizers legally trespass on private property

PLF represents California farming businesses that employ around 3,000 Californians and produce millions of dollars for California’s economy in the form of oranges, table grapes, and strawberry plants. A state Agricultural Labor Relations Board regulation – the Union Access Rule – allows union organizers to go on private land to solicit su ...

School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida

Unions attack–but can’t kill–Florida charter schools

The School Board of Palm Beach County illegally denied South Palm Beach Charter School’s application to start a new charter school, claiming that the school lacks “innovation” and fails to fulfill the state charter statute’s requirement that charter schools “encourage the use of innovative learning methods.” The ...

Hardie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association

Ban on felon-coaches is not racial discrimination

Dominic Hardie is a high school basketball coach who is prohibited from coaching in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)-sponsored tournaments because he is a convicted felon. He sued the NCAA on the theory that the felon-ban violates Title II of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in places of public accommodatio ...

Armstrong v. Kadas

Supporting school choice for all – Christians included

PLF represents parents of a child in a faith-based school and an association of Christian schools in a challenge to a regulation implementing Montana’s scholarship tax credit law. The regulation forbids religiously affiliated schools from participating in the tax credit program. PLF challenged the regulation as violating the First Amendment&# ...

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Catastrophe Management Solutions

Requiring “professional” hairstyles is not intentional racial discrimination

Catastrophe Management Solutions requires its employees to be “dressed and groomed in a manner that projects a professional and businesslike image” and does not allow hairstyles that are “excessive” or an “unusual color.” An African-American woman with dreadlocks was offered a job on the condition that she change ...

Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association

Supreme Court sports gambling decision is win for federalism

A federal law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) forbade states from legalizing sports gambling. When New Jersey repealed some of its prohibitions against sports gambling, several sports leagues sued, claiming the state violated PASPA, even if the state did not license or permit the activity. The Third Circuit agreed ...

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