Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Court’

Last year’s (and next’s) Supreme Court term

Caleb Brown interviews me and Trevor Burrus about some of the term’s lower-profile Supreme Court cases, including Abercrombie & Fitch (religious accommodation), disparate impact housing discrimination, Yates (whether the Sarbanes-Oxley financial accounting law forbids destroying fish), Horne (raisin takings), three-strikes sentencing and (Trevor) the Texas confederate flag license plate case. We also preview next term’s important Friedrich v. California Teachers Association case on public sector union dues collection (more on which, Michael Rosman).

Related: ten cases the Court should have taken last term but didn’t [Mark Chenoweth, WLF]

Supreme Court and constitutional law roundup

  • Supreme Court grants certiorari (as Cato had urged) in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, on First Amendment rights of individual public employees against unions, potentially major sequel to Harris v. Quinn (our coverage) and Knox v. SEIU (our coverage). More: Jason Bedrick, Cato;
  • More First Amendment: On same day, high court says Texas can turn down Confederate-flag license plates but that town of Gilbert, Ariz. impermissibly took content into account in regulating roadside signs [Lyle Denniston; Eugene Volokh on Gilbert and earlier, and on license plates] Ilya Shapiro has a wrap-up of other end-of-term cases;
  • Paging judicial-independence buffs: study finds Obama stands out for aggressive comments on pending SCOTUS cases [W$J via Jonathan Adler]
  • Abercrombie v. EEOC followup (earlier): If Thomas’s dissent has the courage of its convictions, maybe it’s because he was longest-serving chairman in EEOC history [Tamara Tabo] “SCOTUS requires employers to stereotype in ruling for EEOC in hijab-accommodation case” [Jon Hyman] Yes, employers can still have dress codes, but read on for the caveat [Daniel Schwartz]
  • “Illinois Uses Racial Preferences for No Good Reason,” Seventh Circuit take note [Ilya Shapiro and Julio Colomba, Cato]
  • Feds can refuse to register a “disparaging” trademark. Consistent with the First Amendment? [Shapiro, Cato]
  • More from Ilya Somin on anniversary of eminent domain Kelo v. New London decision [one, two, more]

The marriage decision

In this half-hour Cato podcast, Caleb Brown interviews Roger Pilon and me on yesterday’s decision in Obergefell finding that states are constitutionally obliged to extend marriage to same-sex couples. I touch on some topics of wider interest (no, I don’t think polygamy is next; the Justices write and behave differently when it’s a really big case; the law’s treatment of churches mustn’t depend on whether their theology suits the government’s taste or not). And lots of more specialized points, such as Roberts’ weird demonization of the famed Lochner case in his dissent (“gay marriage and laissez-faire capitalism, peas in a pod!”), what I call Kennedy’s “gin and tonic” method of mixing Due Process with Equal Protection, and a remarkable story by Roger of getting Scalia to admit he doesn’t think the Court was correct when it recognized a constitutional right to send one’s kids to private and religious schools.

P.S. And here’s a video version of the same conversation:

The Jason Kuznicki paper I mention — on how legal practicalities undercut the idea of the government “getting out of marriage” in the sense of not attempting to certify who is married and who not — is here.

More links: Ilya Shapiro reacts at Cato (which had filed an amicus brief on the winning side urging an Equal Protection rationale, written by William Eskridge Jr. of Yale Law, Roger Pilon, Ilya Shapiro, and Trevor Burrus). David Bernstein has a lot to say about the continuity between Obergefell and the pro-individual-rights tradition of jurisprudence overthrown by the New Deal. Among those who approve of the outcome but would send the whole thing back for editing are Timothy Sandefur and Ilya Somin. Evan Bernick (writing before the decision) on the need for strong religious liberty protection. And David Boaz on how libertarians were there long, long before most others caught up. “The Libertarian Party endorsed gay rights with its first platform in 1972.” That’s not a misprint: 1972.

“Stop calling it fair housing…”

…There’s nothing fair about it. I’ve got a post at Cato about yesterday’s important Supreme Court victory for the Left in which Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the four liberals to hold that current federal law allows housing suits based on “disparate impact” theories. I explain why pundits are being silly when they claim that the Court “saved” the Fair Housing Act or that a contrary ruling would have “gutted” it, and why Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas were right in their dissents to spotlight the shaky basis of the theory in the statutory text, going back to the original disparate-impact case, Griggs v. Duke Power.

True, Kennedy did throw a sop or two about how courts applying disparate impact need to avoid pressuring actors toward the potentially unconstitutional result of quotas. Although some consider these bits of wording significant, I suspect that will mean about as much as similar sops that the Court has thrown over the years about avoiding quotas in employment and education, i.e., not much. Others, such as Cory Andrews of WLF, point to Kennedy language suggesting (on what statutory basis is not entirely clear) that disparate impact scrutiny might be limited to “artificial, arbitrary, and unnecessary” practices, a narrowness of approach not seen in other disparate-impact contexts. How administrable such a standard might prove, or how much litigation will be needed before it is clarified, is anyone’s guess.

Some further background on Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project: SCOTUSBlog, Cato’s brief in the case and earlier coverage by Ilya Shapiro and company here and here, and my podcast.

The rest of the Supreme Court’s term

With three decision days remaining — today, tomorrow, and next Monday — Ilya Shapiro outlines the remaining seven cases and their importance, including Texas Dept. of Housing v. Inclusive Communities Project (are defendants liable under “disparate impact” theories in housing discrimination law?) and King v. Burwell (interpreting Congress’s language on Obamacare subsidies).

Update: Both of those cases were decided this morning. In King v. Burwell, the Court broke 6-3 for the administration to uphold the IRS’s rewrite of ObamaCare subsidies. The Court keeps on hand a supply of what one observer called Get Out Of Bad Drafting Free cards, but as Justice Scalia noted in his “SCOTUScare” dissent, awards them only for certain laws. And the housing case was a big win for the left as Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the four liberals to uphold housing suits based on “disparate impact” theories. His opinion throws a sop or two about how disparate impact shouldn’t imply quotas, which I suspect will mean about as much as similar sops the Court has thrown over the years in employment and education, i.e., not much. (P.S. As one reader rightly objects, the problem in Burwell wasn’t so much bad drafting as drafting that failed of its intended coercive effect and therefore needed to be revised if there was to be a Plan B. More on King v. Burwell: Roger Pilon and Ilya Shapiro at Cato)

SCOTUS: raisin seizure requires compensation

It’s raining raisin rights! The Supreme Court has ruled 8-1, as a Cato amicus brief had urged, that the Horne family of California have a Fifth Amendment right to compensation for the government’s seizure of half their raisin crop as part of an agricultural marketing order program. Only Justice Sotomayor dissented. There was also a 5-3 split on the question of how compensation should be calculated, with the majority joining Chief Justice Roberts in holding that the Department of Agriculture was bound by its own estimate of the value of the raisins taken. Earlier on Horne v. USDA here.

Robert Thomas at Inverse Condemnation rounds up reactions. Commentary: Ilya Shapiro, Roger Pilon (and earlier on the Magna Carta angle), and Trevor Burrus/Forbes (good news: Court strikes down really awful New Deal farm program. Bad news: it took 80 years), all from Cato; Iain Murray, Ilya Somin. And thanks to Instapundit guestblogger Virginia Postrel for linking to our past coverage.

L.A. v. Patel: law must allow hotels to contest police access to registries

MovieTownHotelPostcard
In Los Angeles v. Patel, decided this morning, the Supreme Court held 5-4 with Justice Kennedy joining the four liberals that a Los Angeles law requiring hotels to give police free access to guest registries was facially in violation of the Fourth Amendment because it did not provide a way for hotels to challenge a given disclosure. Justice Sotomayor wrote the majority opinion. Cato had filed an amicus brief on behalf of the position that prevailed. Earlier here. Pictured postcard via present-day Vibe Hotel. More: Josh Gerstein, Politico; Jim Harper, Cato.

More from Conor Friedersdorf: Justice Scalia in dissent focused on the historically closely regulated nature of innkeepers, but would he feel as comfortable if technological advance turned the hotel registries into an instantly accessible government database of where all travelers are staying, a development lawyers for Los Angeles appeared to view as perfectly Constitutional?