Government plays all kinds of tricks

October 31, 2014 | By PACIFIC LEGAL

Halloween is the perfect time to highlight some of the ways overreaching government plays dirty tricks on unsuspecting Americans. In Pacific Legal Foundation’s portfolio of more than 120 cases, regulators can get quite creative — and destructive — in putting a scare into freedom-loving citizens.

For example, one of the quickest and surest way to stop productive economic activity on private land is to have it labeled a “wetland.” Just ask PLF client John Duarte, who owns farmland in Northern California that was idled by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ cease and desist order in 2013, based on alleged Clean Water Act violations. Duarte disputes the facts in the case, but regulators did not give him a hearing or any other opportunity to show they had their facts wrong. Duarte’s wheat farm has sat idle for 20 months while PLF attorneys argue that the Corps’ actions are a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Constitution.

The shameful treatment of a Louisiana property owner should scare the living daylights out of any property owner in America. The feds — on pure speculation — declared 1,544 acres of land in St. Tammany Parish as “critical habitat” for the dusky gopher frog. The land is manifestly not suitable for the frog, which is why you won’t find a dusky gopher frog anywhere on Edward Poitevent’s land, or anywhere else in the state for that matter. Federal officials admit as much, and yet they still regulate the land as “critical habitat,” hoping someday in the future it might become frog habitat.

If you are a private investigator and want to work in Nevada, you can forget about it if you don’t have a physical business location in the Silver State. PLF client, Troy Castillo, with 29 years of experience as a police officer in Palm Springs, passed all of the state’s strict requirements to earn a license to operate in Nevada, and then state officials dropped the hammer on him by enacting a new law that forbids his business unless he has a “brick and mortar” office in Nevada.

Many parents in Washington State were jubilant in 2012, when that state became the 42nd in the nation to offer parents a meaningful choice in options for educating their children. But the voter-passed initiative was immediately challenged in court by plaintiffs representing the interests of unions and school administrators. They argue that schools must be “uniform” under the Washington Constitution, and a charter school, by the very fact that it offers an alternative to union-controlled schools, is not uniform. PLF has filed an amicus brief supporting the interests of parents and their children to seek better educational opportunities than those offered by the status quo.

Defying Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that expressly prohibits racial discrimination in employment, many government and private employers give preferences to some based on the color of their skin, and discriminate against others. William Shea is one of the victims. He was hired to be a Foreign Service officer by the Department of State back in 1992. When State hired Shea, it was operating a race-based affirmative action program, and the agency admitted it was discriminating against him by hiring self-identified minorities directly into mid-level positions. Recent Supreme Court decisions have case doubt on the precedent used by the State Department to justify its actions. PLF attorneys are arguing, in support of Shea’s challenge, that the precedent should be overturned.

Yes, it’s Halloween, the time when little scary creatures come knocking on your door in search of treats. But here at PLF, we remain focused on the various frightening assaults being made on our constitutional rights and liberties.