5 months ago

Weekly litigation report — April 22, 2017

By James S. Burling Vice President for Litigation
  • Suit filed challenging Wisconsin’s illegal butter rule
  • Briefing complete in challenge to California’s mining ban
  • Opposition to California proposal to remove protection for homes
  • Supreme Court requires return of seized property
  • Oral argument held in Trinity Lutheran

Suit filed challenging Wisconsin’s illegal butter rule

We filed this complaint in Minerva Dairy v. Brancel. In this case, Wisconsin is blocking the sale of butter from out-of-state artisanal butter makers through a complicated and unnecessary grading law. Although Minerva Dairy’s butter meets USDA health and safety standards, it is not “graded” by Wisconsin graders. Yet it is sold in every other state in the union. Only Wisconsin requires a grading system that Minerva Dairy believes makes it impossible to make small batches of artisanal butter with a unique flavor that does not conform to a lowest-common-denominator grading system. For more about the case, see our blog post here.

Briefing complete in challenge to California’s mining ban

We filed this reply brief in Rinehart v. California, our request that the Supreme Court of the United States take this case in order to reverse the California Supreme Court. In Rinehart the state court ruled that California could ban the only economically viable method of mining small stream-based “placer gold” claims on federal land. This despite an opinion from the Supreme Court of the United States saying that while states may “regulate” mining to ensure environmental protection, states may not ban mining altogether. For more, see our blog post here.

Opposition to California proposal to remove protection for homes

Last week we reported on the written testimony we provided in opposition to California Assembly Bill 1129 — a bill that would remove protections for “existing” structures in the California Coastal Act unless the structures existed before 1977. This week, PLF attorney Damien Schiff provided testimony to the legislature. You can find more on that and a link to the testimony here.

Supreme Court requires return of seized property

In this opinion in Nelson v. Colorado, the Supreme Court of the United States ordered Colorado to return money belonging to exonerated defendants who were required to pay fines and money into a victims’ restitution fund prior to having their convictions overturned. We had filed this amicus brief pointing out that the money is property protected by the Due Process Clause and that requiring a defendant to “prove” innocence after exoneration in order to get property back violated the Due Process Clause. For more, see our blog post here that we wrote when the case went to the Court and this editorial on the case.

Oral argument held in Trinity Lutheran

The Supreme Court heard oral argument this week in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc., v. Sara Parker Pauley. That’s the case where a state agency refused to donate ground up recycled tire scraps to use for a church playground surface because the recipient was a church-affiliated school. That sort of discrimination against religious institutions runs contrary to the federal constitution. For a link to our amicus brief and more commentary on the case, see our blog post here. You can review a transcript of the argument here.

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