President's weekly report — November 16, 2012

November 16, 2012 | By ROB RIVETT

Environmental Law – Endangered Species Act

PLF attorneys filed a federal lawsuit in Idaho on Thursday because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to respond to a petition that asks the agency to remove the Southern Selkirk Mountain Caribou Population from the endangered species list.  PLF submitted the petition last May on behalf of Bonner County and the Idaho State Snowmobile Association.  The petition urges the Service to delist the caribou population in Idaho’s panhandle because the caribou that roam there do not represent a population of wildlife that is eligible for listing under the Endangered Species Act.  The Service did not respond to the petition within the statutory 90-day period for initial findings.  Therefore, we are asking the court to order the Service to act.  Read more by lead counsel Daniel Himebaugh.

Property Rights in Washington State

On Tuesday, the Washington Supreme Court heard oral argument in Lemire v. Washington Department of Ecology.  The primary question the Court must resolve in that case is whether Ecology committed a taking when it ordered cattle rancher Joseph Lemire to install livestock exclusion fencing around a creek that runs through his property. The really interesting thing about the case is that it could tell us if the Court is serious about preserving federalism.  As amicus, PLF argued that the Washington Constitution is more protective of Lemire’s property rights than federal law.  Daniel Himebaugh (who had a busy week!) discusses it further on the blog.

Individual Rights – Antidiscrimination

Yesterday, in Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action v. Regents of the University of Michigan, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, declared Proposal 2 unconstituional under the Equal Protection Clause.  The court was split 8-7, and generated 5 separate dissenting opinions.  Proposal 2 is Michigan’s landmark constitutional amendment that banned racial preferences and discrimination by state and local government; it was modeled on California’s Propostion 209.  PLF argued in favor of the constitutionality of the proposal in our amicus brief.  A full description of the litigation and PLF’s brief can be found here, and our good friend Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity analyzes the decision here.  PLF will continue to defend Proposal 2, and the principle of color-blind governance, as this case makes it way to the Supreme Court.