The Pacific Legal Foundation And "Follow-Up" Litigation


by Timothy Sandefur

Professor Ilya Somin has recently been blogging about the new book The Rise of The Conservative Legal Movement by Steve Teles. In this post he mentions what he considers "a very important shortcoming" of groups like the Pacific Legal Foundation: namely, the failure to litigate "follow-up" cases to enforce major legal precedents.

While it's true that this is something that we would like to do more of, PLF's funding depends almost entirely on donations by our supporters. (A little comes from attorney’s fees in cases we win.) So we have to set priorities, and usually winning one big case is more helpful on our limited budget than enforcing those cases later on.

However, PLF does have one project devoted almost entirely to follow-up litigation: our Proposition 209 project seeks to enforce California's constitutional amendment prohibiting racial preferences by the government. Since Prop. 209 was passed by California voters, the state's attorney general (both Bill Lockyer and Jerry Brown) have refused to enforce the initiative.

PLF is the only organization that regularly pursues Prop. 209 cases against cities, school districts, and other government entities that try to evade or violate this law, and we have been extremely successful.

Also, PLF filed the first case under Arizona's new property rights initiative, Proposition 207. This case, against the city of Flagstaff, is currently in the trial court, and we are hoping to litigate many more enforcement actions under this important initiative.

Pacific Legal Foundation is, so far as I know, the only conservative/libertarian public interest group that does expressly pursue enforcement litigation. You can learn more about how to support our efforts here.