President's weekly report — February 22, 2013

February 22, 2013 | By ROB RIVETT

Equal Protection of the Law

Today in San Francisco Superior Court, PLF attorney Meriem Hubbard argued cross-motions for summary judgment in Coral Construction v. City and County of San Francisco.  In this case back in 2010, the California Supreme Court upheld California’s Proposition 209, which forbids all discrimination and preferences in public contracting, against the city’s argument that the federal constitution’s Equal Protection Clause compelled the city’s discriminatory policies.  San Francisco argued, however, that it had intentionally discriminated against minority and women contractors and the court remanded to give the city an opportunity to prove that was true.  Read more.

Proposition 209

Are California public universities improperly consider authors’ race and sex when considering whether to publish their articles?  PLF attorneys learned this week that both UC Davis and UC Berkeley law journals require authors seeking publication to disclose their race and sex during the article selection process.  Why would they do that?  PLF would like to know!  On Tuesday of this week, we sent requests under California’s Public Records Act demanding information to the Deans of the UC Davis School of Law and UC Berkeley School of Law.  PLF attorney Joshua Thompson explains further about the possible Proposition 209 violations that may be revealed.

Property rights – Western water law

The productive use of the arid Western states depends on the ability of property owners to use water.  In Hage v. United States, the United States Forest Service fenced off Nevada rancher Wayne Hage’s ditches and prevented him from watering his cattle or even maintaining the water flow in the ditches.  When Hage sued, the trial court found that the Forest Service had taken his property and awarded just compensation.  But the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals reversed.  Hage is asking the United States Supreme Court to review the case and PLF is filing an amicus brief supporting the petition.

National Public Interest Law Day!

Finally, Sunday, February 24 is National Public Interest Law Day.  Check out Director of Litigation Jim Burling’s thoughtful comments on the history of public interest law and PLF’s crucial role in fighting for freedom in the courts.