Meriem L. Hubbard

Senior Attorney

Sacramento

Meriem Hubbard has been an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation since January 2000.  She litigates cases involving property rights, public finance issues, and preferences in government hiring, contracting, and education.

Meriem’s interest in constitutional law was the reason she went to law school.   She has kept this focus throughout her career.  Meriem’s first legal position was at a private firm started by PLF’s founder, Ronald Zumbrun.  At Zumbrun, Best & Findley, Meriem litigated cases against state and local government agencies and regulators.  Those cases involved a variety of issues, including eminent domain, regulatory takings, fees and taxes, freedom of expression, and educational policy.  Now, at PLF, Meriem has even greater resources to change the law and assist people whose rights are abused by government.

Meriem received her B.A. from the University of Washington in Seattle, and her law degree from the University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, in Sacramento.  She was an editor on the Environmental Law Review.

In her spare time, Meriem likes to read and spend time with her family.

Meriem Hubbard has been an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation since January 2000.  She litigates cases involving property rights, public finance issues, and preferences in government hiring, contracting, and education.

Meriem’s interest in constitutional law was the reason she went to law school.   She has kept this focus throughout her career.  Meriem’s first legal position was at a private firm started by PLF’s founder, Ronald Zumbrun.  At Zumbrun, Best & Findley, Meriem litigated cases against state and local government agencies and regulators.  Those cases involved a variety of issues, including eminent domain, regulatory takings, fees and taxes, freedom of expression, and educational policy.  Now, at PLF, Meriem has even greater resources to change the law and assist people whose rights are abused by government.

Meriem received her B.A. from the University of Washington in Seattle, and her law degree from the University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, in Sacramento.  She was an editor on the Environmental Law Review.

In her spare time, Meriem likes to read and spend time with her family.

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Personal Liberties

Fontenot v. Hunter, Attorney General of Oklahoma

A state cannot prevent truthful marketing of art as “American Indian-made.”

Peggy Fontenot is an award-winning American Indian photographer and artist, specializing in hand-made beaded jewelry and cultural items. A member of Virginia’s Patawomeck tribe, she has made her living for 30 years traveling the country to show and sell her American Indian art. She regularly participated in Oklahoma art festivals until local, politically-connected tribes convinced the state legislature to restrict the definition of “Indian tribe” to include only those tribes recognized by the federal government. The restriction was ostensibly to prevent the marketing and sale of art fraudulently described as “American Indian-made.” However, as a result of this law, Ms. Fontenot – a legitimate member of a state-recognized tribe – may no longer truthfully describe her art as “American Indian-made” in the state of Oklahoma.

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Personal Liberties

American Beverage Association v. City and County of San Francisco

San Francisco’s tactics in its war on soda violate the First Amendment

A San Francisco ordinance requires advertisements related to sugar-sweetened beverages to devote 20% of the space to city-specified speech: “WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.” A coalition of beverage trade associations sued the city for violating their First Amendment right not to be forced to express messages with which they disagree. The district court upheld the ordinance and the coalition appealed. PLF filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit arguing that the ordinance must be subjected to heightened scrutiny and fails to pass constitutional muster.

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Property Rights

Nies v. Town of Emerald Isle

Supreme Court asked to reverse North Carolina’s massive beach land grab

The Town of Emerald Isle, North Carolina, passed ordinances allowing the general public and town officials to use the Nies family’s private beach land, without compensating them. State courts upheld these ordinances because they believed a 1998 state law redefined all private dry sand beaches from private land into a “public trust” area open for public driving and access. PLF, representing the landowners, argued that both the ordinance and the state law effected an unconstitutional taking by remaking the entire coastline of separately divided and owned dry beach parcels into a uniform public trust beach which the public and the government can use and drive on without owner consent or compensation. With the state courts unwilling to compensate the property owners, PLF is seeking review in the U.S. Supreme Court.

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By Meriem L. Hubbard

PLF in the Daily Journal: Ruling imperils taxpayers’ right to vote

The Daily Journal published my column on California Cannabis Coalition v City of Upland, recently decided by the California Supreme Court  As the op-ed points out, the ruling undermines Proposition 218’s requirements that all new taxes at the local level need voter approval

View the article

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By Meriem L. Hubbard

U.S. Supreme Court rules that some taxpayer funded benefits are available to religious institutions

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court issued a win for the Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia  The question in the case against the State of Missouri, was whether the State violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment by refusing to allow the Church to participate in a program offering rubber surfacing material to nonprofit organizations The Church applied for the grant so that it could replace the rock surface of a playground at its daycare facility with a safer surface made from recycled tires  Its request was denied for the sole reason that it is a church

The decision was authored by Chief Justice Roberts, who focused on the

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By Meriem L. Hubbard

Victory in residential rental inspection case

Warrantless inspections of residential rental properties are a source of controversy in many California cities Take, for example, the City of Highland located in San Bernardino County The City adopted a Residential Rental Enhancement Program requiring an inspection of all residential rental properties Pursuant to the Program, city inspectors could inspect 70 items in and around rental homes, including everything from contrasting color address numbers to dishwashers and bathroom exhaust fans

Karl Trautwein, who owns a rental home in the City of Highland, and his long-time tenants refused the City’s attempts to conduct a warrantless search of the home  Rather than seek a warrant to search the property, as

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By Meriem L. Hubbard

The Supreme Court will decide whether states can provide financial aid to religious institutions

In 1875, Congressman James G Blaine proposed an amendment to the US Constitution that would have prohibited state governments from funding religious institutions, including religious schools  Although the proposal failed to gather enough votes in Congress, a majority of states added Blaine Amendments to their constitutions, most of which were adopted during the last quarter of the 19th century  On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear argument in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc, v Sara Parker Pauley, which challenges the constitutionality of Blaine Amendments under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment

Trinity Lutheran Church operates a daycare

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By Meriem L. Hubbard

California's high court will review pension "spiking" case

Californians are accustomed to controversy when it comes to public employee pensions  Although state and local governments across the country were left without adequate funding of pension obligations following the Great Recession of 2008-2009, California’s shortfall–estimated to be around $475 billion–was the biggest

The California Legislature responded to the crisis by adopting the Pension Reform Act of  2013  The Act excludes compensation paid for the purpose of enhancing a member’s retirement benefit, commonly referred to as “pension spiking”   Public employees, unlike those in the private sector, can increase their pay at the end of their careers in order to “spike” their pensions  They do so by padding the actual base

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By Meriem L. Hubbard

The right to vote on taxes: California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland

Today PLF filed an amicus brief in California Cannabis Coalition v City of Upland  The case was accepted for review in the California Supreme Court in late June  Despite its name, the case is not about marijuana  It is about Californians’ right to vote on taxes  That right was established through a string of voter-approved referenda beginning with Proposition 13 (property taxes), and followed by Proposition 62 (special and general taxes), Proposition 218 (taxes, assessments, fees, charges), and Proposition 26 (levies, charges, exactions)

Generally, taxation cases are brought against government entities when they refuse to let the public vote on taxes, fees, assessments, and other charges

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