President's weekly report — May 6, 2016
Equality under the law in 2016
As difficult as it may be to believe, a child in America can still be turned away from a school because of his race. That’s why we filed this complaint in White v. Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corp. As if caught in a strange time-warp, schools in St. Louis will not allow an African-American child living in the county to transfer into a magnet school in the City, while his next White or Latino or Asian neighbor can. This all arises from a history of desegregation orders from a half-century ago — a history that it is time for us to transcend and so we can all finally embrace the promise of the post civil-war amendments to our Constitution. For more, see our blog here.
Wetlands on ice
We filed this complaint in Tin Cup v. United States Army Corps of Engineers challenging the Corps’ illegal expansion of its definition of wetlands to cover permafrost wetlands. Congress insisted several decades ago that the Corps follow a 1987 manual to determine whether land is a wetland subject to federal jurisdiction. One key element is how long the land is saturated during a “growing season.” The Corps, however, has tried to evade the mandate of Congress by adopting “supplements” to the manual. One supplement in particular, for Alaska, has the effect to putting millions of acres of permafrost — for which there is no appreciable “growing season” — into the Corps’ regulatory ambit. That’s why we’re suing on behalf of a property owner near Fairbanks whose land shouldn’t be classified as a jurisdictional wetland. For more, see our blog post here.
We’re critical of critical habitat evading meaningful review
We filed this petition for writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court of the United States to review Building Industry Association of the Bay Area v. United States Department of Commerce. This case involves a critical habitat designation for the Green Sturgeon — a designation that will have devastating economic impacts on many local communities in northern California. The legal problem here is that Congress once amended the Endangered Species Act to require the federal government to consider removing areas from critical habitat if the economic impact were too high. For more, see our blog post here.
Supplemental brief filed in labor – property rights dispute
We filed this supplemental brief in Cedar Point Nursery v. Gould, where we are arguing that a state regulation permitting union organizers to go onto private for organizing, violates the constitutional rights of the landowners. Here’s the blog post.
Oral argument held in Sea Otter case
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard our oral argument this week in California Sea Urchin Commission v. Jacobson. We’re arguing that when Congress allowed a program for translocating sea otters to a new location, it put in place safeguards to protect the local fishermen. But now the Fish & Wildlife Service is proposing to abandon these protections. Deep pockets liability
We’ve filed this amicus brief in UDR Texas Properties v. Petrie in the Texas Supreme Court arguing that an owner of an apartment building doesn’t own a duty to protect someone who is shot and injured by a robber outside the apartment’s security gate. For more, see our blog.
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Cedar Point Nursery v. Gould
PLF represents California farming businesses that employ around 3,000 Californians and produce millions of dollars for California’s economy in the form of oranges, table grapes, and strawberry plants. A state Agricultural Labor Relations Board regulation – the Union Access Rule – allows union organizers to go on private land to solicit support for unionization. In 2015, union organizers entered and walked across our clients’ property during harvest time, promoting the union with bullhorns. Some workers, scared and intimidated, left the property. PLF sued, arguing that this disruptive regulation effectively takes the farmers’ property in violation of the Fifth Amendment and also violates the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable seizures.Read more