President's weekly report — October 12, 2012

October 12, 2012 | By ROB RIVETT

Busy, busy, busy! Here are some of PLF’s highlights from this week:

Obamacare – The Battle Continues

The federal district court yesterday granted PLF’s unopposed motion to file our amended complaint in Sissel v. HHS, our case challenging the constitutionality of the “tax” on not having health insurance. As Timothy Sandefur explains in his post on PLF’s Liberty Blog, Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision in NFIB v. Sebelius this summer recharacterized the PPACA’s financial penalty as a “tax,” which was enough for him to uphold its constitutionality—but it raised a new problem: the Constitution says that all “bills for raising revenue” must “originate in the House.” Yet the PPACA did not originate in the House; it originated in the Senate.

Individual Rights – Equality Under the Law in College Admissions

On Wednesday, PLF attorney Joshua Thompson attended the Supreme Court oral argument in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. This is the landmark civil rights case that is set to determine the continued viability of race-based college admissions. PLF filed more briefs in this litigation than any other organization. PLF’s Supreme Court merits brief was described by The Weekly Standard as “the most persuasive brief overall.” Following the hearing, Joshua spoke with Armstrong & Getty about his thoughts on the oral argument. He then appeared on Los Angeles’s drive-time radio show John & Ken for a half an hour. Joshua also wrote up his thoughts on the argument which you can read on the blog here.

Free Enterprise Project – Freedom of Contract

Today we filed an amicus brief in the Missouri Supreme Court in Chochorowski v. Home Depot, defending the right of competent adults to choose the content of their contracts. As Deborah J. La Fetra writes on the Liberty Blog, PLF argues that competent adults must be held to the most basic duty of contracting–to read the contract. Moreover, a consumer is fully within her rights to contract for a damage waiver; a method of risk allocation common both in the business world and in the courts, via settlement agreements.

Government Abuse–Attorneys’ Fees Awarded Against Private Citizens

The U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in Vargas v. City of Salinas, in which the California courts awarded to a city attorneys’ fees approaching a quarter million dollars under the state Anti-SLAPP statute (a statute intended to punish those who file frivolous litigation aimed at chilling another person’s free speech rights). The plaintiffs had lost in the lower courts, but the California Supreme Court adopted their legal theory of the case even while ultimately finding the city’s actions were legal. PLF got involved in this case because public interest litigants often lose before trial and appellate courts, only to set positive precedent at the highest court. Public interest litigants should not be punished for bringing good faith lawsuits against the government.

Property Rights– Physical Taking

The U.S. Supreme Court also denied certiorari in CCA Associates v. United States, which raised the question of whether the federal government can conscript private property for use as low-income housing for a period of more than five years, without incurring liability for a taking.