President's weekly report — December 31, 2014
This update is a bit early this week, in anticipation of a long holiday weekend. But there’s lots of cool stuff to report:
Government accountability — victory in Arizona
We received a sweet victory today in Biggs v. Brewer, a case brought by our friends at the Goldwater Institute. Arizona requires a two-thirds majority for bills that increase taxes and fees. Yet when the state passed a set of Obamacare Medicaid subsidies with a tax on hospitals, it passed with only a simple majority. Well over one-third of the legislators sued, saying that their votes against the bill — which would have prevented its passage by a two-thirds vote — were ignored. The trial court tossed the lawsuit, saying the legislatures disagree. At the Arizona Supreme Court, we filed this amicus brief and today the court ruled in favor of the legislators and the taxpayers of Arizona. As our blog explains, the Court held that because the legislators, as a body, could have stopped the bill so they have a right to challenge it.
School Choice — North Carolina’s scholarship program
We filed this amicus brief in Richardson v. North Carolina and Hart v. North Carolina, where we are supporting North Carolina’s attempt to provide scholarship money to low-income students so that they may attend private schools of their choice. As our blog discusses, we believe that the union-inspired constitutional challenges to these innovative solutions to the problem of failing public schools are ill-considered and are doing a disservice to the struggling communities that these initiatives are designed to help. Many thanks to our local counsel Richard Vinroot and Matthew Tilley of Robinson, Bradshaw and Henson for their contributions to the brief.
We received word this week that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will review the listing status of the California Gnatcatcher in light of genetic evidence that this bird is not a subspecies at all. As noted in our blog, we had filed a petition for the delisting when we received the results of detailed genetic testing of the birds.
Writing competition deadline approaching
The January 16 deadline for PLF’s law student writing competition is fast approaching. So if you are a liberty-loving law student, you’ll need to get this wrapped up in the next couple of weeks.
What’s ahead for 2015 in the Supreme Court?
This week’s podcast features a discussion of five cases currently before the Court. PLF is involved in all of these cases, and represent clients directly in four.
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Biggs v. Betlatch
A bare majority of the Arizona state legislature passed a law requiring the director of the state Health Care Cost Containment System – which governs the state Medicaid program – to levy an “assessment” on hospitals to pay for Medicaid expansion. Legislators who opposed the law sued to invalidate it on the grounds that the bill created a tax that required a supermajority vote in the Legislature. Lower courts upheld the law. PLF filed an amicus brief urging the Arizona Supreme Court to grant review and protect the interests of taxpayers and the integrity of government by enforcing constitutional, statutory, and regulatory restraints on taxing and spending.Read more