March 1, 2018

PLF: 45 Years Fighting for Your Rights

By Timothy R. Snowball Attorney

Today, Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) attorneys argued a landmark free speech case before the United States Supreme Court regarding the ability of states to ban all forms of “political” apparel at polling places on election day, limited only by the subjective assessments of on site poll workers. While we are hopeful that the ultimate result of Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky will conform with the requirements of free speech and the First Amendment, Minnesota’s actions in this case are but one example of government overstepping its constitutionally prescribed bounds.

Since our founding in 1973, PLF has become one of the most active and successful public interest legal organizations in the United States by standing opposed to every government attempt to violate the protections contained in the Bill of Rights.

A society cannot flourish and individuals cannot prosper without the bedrock constitutional right to possess and utilize private property. In Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, Marilyn and Patrick Nollan were ordered by the California Coastal Commission to give away one-third of their beachfront lot in exchange for a permit to replace an old dilapidated one-story home with a new two-story home. Represented by PLF, the Supreme Court struck down this requirement as unconstitutional, calling the scheme an “out-and-out plan of extortion.”  From that date forward, all permit conditions imposed on land development must be related to actual harms caused by the development.

The personal liberties protected by the Constitution encompass your right to be free in the enjoyment of all of your abilities in the pursuit of happiness, including the right to express yourself in thought and action, to pursue the occupation of your choice, to live where you want, and to pursue the best education for you and your children. Keller v. State Bar of California was focused on efforts by the State Bar of California to force attorneys legally bound to be members of the State Bar to contribute mandatory dues to fund ideological motivated lobbying. Represented by PLF, the Supreme Court found that PLF’s attorney-clients could not be forced to pay money to the California State Bar for its own political campaigns.

The Constitution also establishes a separation of powers and express guarantees of due process. The fight for liberty is often a matter of ensuring that those who govern us do not exceed their constitutionally limited authority when enacting and enforcing the law. In Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PLF represented Mike and Chantell Sackett, of Priest Lake, Idaho, who were told by the EPA that they could not get direct court review of EPA’s claim that their two-thirds of an acre parcel is “wetlands” and that they must obey a detailed and intrusive EPA “compliance” order, or be hit with fines of up to $75,000 per day. In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held that property owners have a right to direct, meaningful judicial review when the EPA effectively seizes control of private property.

In total, PLF has argued eleven cases before the United States Supreme Court, four in the last ten years alone. An impressive number for any legal organization, this record is even more impressive given that we have achieved victories on behalf of our clients (and the rest of the country) in nine out of those eleven cases. And this number does not even begin to scratch the surface of the many, many victories we have achieved at all levels of state and federal courts across the country since 1973.

For the last 45 years, PLF has set the standard for a principled public interest legal organization representing citizens who have decided to fight back. And we are just getting started.

We invite you to join the fight.

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