February 1, 2013

President's weekly report — February 1, 2013

By President's weekly report — February 1, 2013

Individual Rights — Defending the right to petition our government.

Hollingsworth v. Perry in the U.S. Supreme Court. We addressed the question whether sponsors of initiatives have standing to defend those initiatives in court — especially when a state’s attorney general refuses to defend the measure. PLF’s amicus brief, filed on our behalf as well as various sponsors of other successful California initiatives that have limited taxes and banned state-sponsored discrimination, argues that sponsors of voter-adopted initiatives have standing to defend those laws.

Individual Rights — Equality Under the Law Project

PLF filed an amicus brief in the Iowa Supreme Court in Pippen v. Iowa. In this case, plaintiffs are suggesting that there is an “implicit bias” harbored by the entirety of Iowa’s government that causes pervasive racial discrimination by the state. PLF’s amicus brief argues that the “implicit bias” theory is not sufficient to state a prima facie claim of racial discrimination in the workplace.

Property Rights — Coastal Land Rights ProjectCarol Severance's beachfront property

The Texas Supreme Court issued a short but sweet victory in Brannan v. State of Texas. This is another case, much like Severance v. Patterson, (photo below) where the state has been declaring lawfully built homes to be “trespassing” on public beaches because the vegetation line shifted after a storm. Because the Court nixed the state’s novel theory with our victory in Severance, it sent this case back to the lower courts in light of its favorable decision in Severance.

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Brannan v. State of Texas

After a 1998 tropical storm moved the vegetation line landward of Texas beachfront homes, state officials informed the beachfront homeowners that, based on its policy of considering the public beach to extend inland to the vegetation line (wherever it goes), the homes were encroachments on a public beach and subject to removal for violating the State’s Open Beaches Act. That “rolling easement” policy was invalidated by PLF’s Texas Supreme Court victory in Severance v. Patterson (2012). PLF represented Angela Brannan and other beachfront homeowners in Surfside, Texas, who were subjected to the “rolling easement” and resulting loss of their property by government fiat. The Texas Court of Appeals ruled that the owners could pursue their takings claims as validated by the Severance case. Local counsel took over the case on remand.

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