President's weekly report — June 28, 2013

June 28, 2013 | By ROB RIVETT

We had an incredible week.  Here is a short summary:

Property Rights – Unlawful Exactions

We had what can only be described as a stunning victory in Koontz v. St. Johns Water Management District. If the vitriol of the environmental community towards this decision is any indication, the cause of property rights did very well.  We have written much more about this on our blog.

Individual Rights – Equality Under the Law Project

We had a great victory from the Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.  The Court held in 7-1 decision that the Fifth Circuit failed to apply strict scrutiny to the University’s use of race in the admissions process.  Vacated and remanded back to the Fifth Circuit.  For more analysis, see our blog posts here and here.

Individual Rights – Equality Under the Law Project

The Court handed us another victory in Shelby County, Alabama, v. Holder.  The Court declared Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional because the formula Congress used to single out states and counties for intrusive and sovereignty-bashing “pre-clearance” scrutiny by the Department of Justice was decades out of date.  Although the Court did not rule Section 5, the “pre-clearance” section, was unconstitutional it will be a dead letter unless and until Congress acts to reauthorize the statute.

Environment – Endangered Species

The district court granted intervention this week to the Center Biological Diversity in our phantom Dusky Gopher Frog case, Markle Interests v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  That’s the case where the service listed land as critical habitat despite the fact that the frog has not occupied the habitat in question for over a half-century and the land is unsuitable for the frog.  CBD apparently now joins the fray to  defend the indefensible.

Vitality of the Initiative Process

The Supreme Court ruled in Hollingsworth v. Perry that the proponents of California’s Proposition 8 had no standing to defend the initiative in federal court because the proponents had not been injured.  We had filed this brief, urging the Court to find the proponents had standing.  Our official statement is here. While we have taken no position on the merits of Proposition 8 itself, we believe it is important that someone other than the attorney general be given authority to defend in federal court a people’s initiative, whether it be Proposition 8, the tax-limiting Proposition 13, or California’s anti-discrimination Proposition 209.  Certainly, the California Supreme Court recognized this when it weighed in on the question.  We suppose that this will necessitate that all future initiatives spell out that the proponents are being given the power of agents of the state for the purpose of defending the initiative in federal court.