President’s weekly report — April 15, 2016
It’s been a very busy week at Pacific Legal Foundation. Here are the highlights.
Protecting property rights in the Supreme Court
A week after oral argument before the Supreme Court in Hawkes, PLF attorneys are already preparing their next case at the Supreme Court, Murr v. Wisconsin. This week, PLF filed its opening brief on the merits in Murr. At issue is whether the government can prevent property owners from developing a parcel of land simply because it is next to an already-developed parcel. Sounds ridiculous, right? PLF attorney John Groen explains the arguments in more detail in this blog post. You can also read more about the case here.
Another property rights case going to the (North Carolina) Supreme Court
Today, the North Carolina Supreme Court granted review in Nies v. Town of Emerald Isle. In Nies, PLF attorneys are representing a family with beachfront property in Emerald Isle, North Carolina. After the family acquired the property, the town declared that part of their property was to be an “unimpeded town vehicle lane,” which allowed city vehicles onto their property. It also passed an ordinance that allowed the public to drive and park on all private dry sand areas, like that owned by the Nieses. As PLF attorney Dave Breemer explains in this blog post, “the result is that the Town converted the Nieses’ dry sand property into a Town expressway and a parking lot and dirt road for the public, without consent and without paying them anything.” PLF will now argue the case before the North Carolina Supreme Court.
PLF files new property rights case
This week PLF announced a new lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission. The lawsuit, Capistrano Shores Property LLC v. California Coastal Commission, argues that the Commission is violating the Constitution by conditioning a family’s right to replace an aging mobile home on their coastal lot, on an agreement to never maintain, repair, or replace the seawall that safeguards their property. In a previous PLF victory against the Coastal Commission, Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, the Supreme Court explained that the Constitution forbids government from extorting concessions from landowners who exercise their constitutional rights. This is just the latest example of the Coastal Commission thumbing its nose at California landowners and the Constitution. Read more about this new lawsuit, and watch our just-released case video here.
Hearing in trash snooping case
PLF attorneys were in court today arguing that Seattle’s trash snooping law violates the Washington Constitution’s right to privacy. Last year, Seattle passed an ordinance allowing garbage collectors to snoop and sift through trash in order to determine if residents were discarding compostable garbage. If more than 10% of the trash was compostable, the City would issue a ticket to the violators. PLF is representing Seattle residents who object to the government snooping and sifting through their trash. You can read more about the case here.
Ninth Circuit upholds class action case
As Deborah La Fetra explains in this blog post, the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Chen v. Allstate Insurance Co., is just the latest decision by the Ninth Circuit upholding class actions in peculiar circumstances. At issue is whether a class action can be maintained by an individual after the defendant agrees to fully compensate her. Or, in other words, may individual pursue a class action without a personal stake in the case? The Ninth Circuit ruled that such suits may go forward. However, this case may not be over yet. The Supreme Court’s decision in Spokeo v. Robins this term may provide more clarity on this issue, and it’s possible that Allstate seeks review of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in the Supreme Court.
PLF helps defend Arizona taxpayers
PLF filed an amicus brief this week in the Arizona Supreme Court in in Cheatham v. DiCiccio. At issue in this case is whether a contract between the City of Phoenix and the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association violates the Gift Clause of the Arizona Constitution. The union benefitted to the tune of $1.7 million, and, according to the Arizona Court of Appeals in a lawsuit brought by Phoenix taxpayers, the city did not benefit at all. PLF is supporting the Arizona taxpayers, arguing that the contract violates the Gift Clause because the union is under no obligation to the City in exchange for the $1.7 million gift.
What to read next
PLF asks the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that there is no “legislative exception” to the unconstitutional conditions doctrine
It seems that some governments and courts prefer to treat Supreme Court precedent as an option, rather than a requirement. The Supreme Court has ruled—twice—that it’s unconstitutional for government to … ›