President's weekly report, April 29, 2016
We had this resounding trial court victory in Bonesteel v. City of Seattle, our challenge to Seattle’s trash-snooping law. In a city where political correctness trumps individual rights, the city passed an ordinance that not only requires Seattlelites to compost their food waste, but required its trash collectors to inspect trash cans for excess food waste, with the threat of shaming notices and fines for noncompliance. The problem here is that the Washington State Constitution’s right to privacy doesn’t allow this — according to well-established state Supreme Court precedent. You can read more here.
Victory at Tahoe!
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency agreed to settle our lawsuit on behalf of Ray and Teresa Avila-Burns. That’s the case where the agency refused to let the Burns rebuild a home on the site of a home that burned down in the Angora fire. For more, see our blog post here.
Free speech for doctors
banned from asking their patients about guns. We don’t have any position on what doctors should talk to their patients about — that’s no more our business than it is the government’s. If a patient doesn’t like the questions, or thinks their irrelevant to the patient’s health, then the patient can choose a new doc (unless perhaps Berncare or Hillarycare replaces Obamacare!) But doctors don’t give up their right to talk to anybody, including their patients, about anything they care talking about just by going to medical school. So if doctor advises a patient to get a gun, or not get a gun, that’s nobody’s business. But it is the business of the Constitution to allow that conversation to take place. But the federal appellate court said that a conversation between a doctor and patient isn’t speech — it’s conduct which the government can regulate to death. That’s nonsense. For more, see our blog post here.
Lost emails, not involving Hillary
A few months we filed this friend of the court brief in a Lake Point v. Martin County, Florida, where there apparently is an epidemic of lost emails. It seems some landowners suspected that some Martin County Commissioners were colluding with some local environmentalists to stop a development project. So the landowners sued and proceeded with “discovery” motions to obtain relevant email conversations about the project denials. Well, what bad luck followed! One of the commissioners had his email account “hacked” causing him to lose all his emails. We filed a brief supporting the developer in his attempt to get some bit of justice, noting that “government should not be excused from its duties simply because it is inept.” The trial court seemed to think it was just an unfortunate mistake. But now another commissioner miraculously found a whole bunch of lost emails that no one knew had even been lost! That was finally enough for the trial court to see through the nonsense and hold that these newly-found-formerly-lost emails “are direct evidence of an unlawful refusal to disclose public records.” Our blog has more details on these lost and found emails.
Government cannot discriminate against churches because they are churches
PLF filed an amicus brief in support of Trinity Church, arguing that the exclusion of religious entities from neutral and secular programs amounts to unequal treatment under the Equal Protection Clause. In Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley a school applied for a grant from Missouri for recycled tires for their playground. Many other schools received these grants — but not Trinity because it is affiliated with a church. For more, see our blog.
Fear of low prices
PLF’s economic liberty project challenges so-called “minimum price” laws that are based on the strange premise that low prices are bad. This week we lost one in Halsnik v. Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, where the Commission won’t allow limo drivers to charge less than $50 per trip, no matter how short the trip is. These laws are rich examples of cronyism and, unfortunately, a Florida state appellate court decision upheld one this week. PLF had filed an amicus brief urging the court to overturn the law. For more, see our blog here.