President's weekly report — May 1, 2015
On the cusp of victory in Florida —
In large part due to the publicity from our “growler” case, Crafted Keg v. Lawson, the Florida legislature has repealed the ban on “growlers,” the 64 ounce containers used for bringing craft beers home. We expect the Governor to sign this in time for happy hour in the near future. For more, see our blog post here.
Tort reform — cert grant
The Supreme Court granted certiorari in Spokeo v. Robbins. After the website Spokeo listed Thomas Robbins as being more socially and financially secure than he actually was, Robbins sued under the Fair Credit Reporting Act — not just on his own behalf but on behalf of a class of similarly “injured” parties. Since Robbins hadn’t suffered any harm, Spokeo moved to dismiss. Ultimately, the Ninth Circuit let the case move forward, finding that any statutory violation, with or without an injury, is enough. We urged the Supreme Court to take up the case in this amicus brief. Argument is expected in the fall.
Free speech — cert denial
The Supreme Court denied certiorari in Rosebrock v. Hoffman, where we had filed this amicus brief. As described in more detail in our blog, this was the case where the Veterans Administration enforced a sign ordinance selectively, depending on the content of the message. After the local administrators agreed to act in a constitutional manner, the claim was dismissed — thus denying a definitive ruling that would prevent the reconstitution of the offending practice.
Environment and water rights — California permits
A California Court of Appeal held oral argument this week in Siskiyou County Farm Bureau v. California Department of Fish & Wildlife over the latter’s demand that water diverters file streambed alteration permits — even when there is no physical alteration of the bed or bank of a stream or channel. A trial court ruled previously that no such permits were required. The appellate panel, led by Judge Robie, will issue a decision within 90 days. PLF filed this amicus brief on behalf of the California Cattlemen’s Association, Siskiyou County, and the Siskiyou County Flood Control and Water Conservation District.
Environment & taxes — California cap and trade
We filed this reply brief in Morning Star Packing Company v. California Air Resources Board, the case where we are challenging California’s greenhouse gas cap and trade scheme. The billions of dollars being raised by this scheme are taxes, which were not adopted by thirds of the legislature as required by Proposition 13.
Public trust doctrine in North Carolina
We filed this reply brief in Nies v. Town of Emerald Isle. The Nies are trying to stop the town from driving vehicles to and fro on their private dry sand beachfront property. The town, on the other hand, is seeking a dramatic expansion of the “public trust doctrine” well above the mean high tide line.
learn more about
Environmental Law Foundation v. State Water Resources Control Board
Environmentalists sued the State of California and Siskiyou County on the theory that the government’s failure to regulate groundwater violates the public trust doctrine. This doctrine traditionally applies only to navigable waters and entrusts the government with the responsibility to preserve the land and resources for productive, recreational, and environmental uses. No California court had ever applied the public trust doctrine to groundwater until the Sacramento Superior Court did so in this case. As amicus on behalf of property owners and farmers, PLF asks the Court of Appeal to reverse this unwarranted, vast expansion of the public trust doctrine.Read more
What to read next
Next week, the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust law will hold a hearing entitled “Rulemakers Must Follow the Rules, Too: Oversight of Agency Compliance with the Congressional Review Act.” PLF’s Todd Gaziano has been invited to testify at the hearing.
Shed a (crocodile) tear for Luke Skywalker today, as Mark Hamill’s much ballyhooed Autograph Law is set to be undone and reformed by the same California officials who made the mistake to pass it in the first place. AB 228 has arrived at the Governor’s desk, and in all likelihood will be signed into law any day.