President's weekly report — September 27, 2013

September 27, 2013 | By ROB RIVETT

Education Reform — Charter Schools

The Georgia Supreme Court issued an excellent decision in Atlanta Independent School System v. Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School, Inc.  As explained in more detail in our blog post, public school districts in Georgia are required to allocate money to charter schools according to a statutory formula.  But here, the Atlanta school district tried to reduce moneys for charter schools by allocating costs for the district’s unfunded pension obligations (a mere $550 million)  to the charter schools — schools which themselves have nothing to do with the District’s unfunded pension obligations.  The charter schools cried, “foul,” we filed this amicus brief, and the Georgia Supreme Court agreed with us.  The charter schools will now get the money the law entitles them to.

Equality Under the Law — Proposition 209

We filed our opening brief on appeal in Coral Construction v. City and County of San Francisco.  This is the long-running case where we are challenging the City’s use of discriminatory preferences in awarding contracts in violation of California’s Proposition 209.  After we won at the California Supreme Court on the issue whether a ban on preferences violates the federal constitution, the Court remanded the case back to the trial court.  That court held that because the City has abandoned its preference ordinance, the case is moot — despite the fact that it is clear that the City will adopt again similar preference legislation as soon as this case is over.  We are arguing in our brief that the court must determine, once and for all, that the City’s preference system violates the California Constitution.

Property Rights — Mining Claims

We received an adverse decision from the Ninth Circuit in McMaster v. United States.  As described in more detail in our blog, the McMasters sought and received a patent for their gold mining claim in the remote Trinity Alps Wilderness Area.  But the patent excluded the right to use a cabin and out-building on the site — a necessity for mining and storing equipment in such a remote location.  The Ninth Circuit upheld the patent limitations based on a memorandum written by an anti-mining bureaucrat in the Clinton Administration.

United States Supreme Court

  • Safari Club International v. United States — Whether the Polar Bear should be listed under the Endangered Species Act.
  • Pacific Legal Foundation v. Environmental Protection Agency — Whether the EPA’s greenhouse gas “endangerment finding” should have been sent to peer review by the Science Advisory Board before being promulgated.
  • Brandt v. United States (amicus) — Whether the United States can take a rail easement after the easement is abandoned by a railroad.
  • Harris v. Quinn (amicus) — Whether Illinois can authorize the SEIU to dock home healthcare workers’ paychecks in a form of forced unionization
  • Toyota Motor Corporation v. Michael Choi (amicus) — Whether Toyota can compel binding arbitration upon a purchaser who signed a sales contract with a binding arbitration clause.

Equality Under the Law at the Supreme Court Podcast

Don’t miss this week’s podcast on two important cases soon to be argued at the Supreme Court involving government-sanctioned discrimination: Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (where we are supporting Michigan’s Proposition 2 which, like California’s Proposition 209, banned government discrimination) and Township of Mt. Holly v. Mt. Holly Garden Citizens in Action (where parties opposing a redevelopment project are claiming that it will have a “disparate impact” on minority populations.)  Links to our amicus briefs and podcast are available here on our website.