Capitol Comments

State sovereignty is front and center in Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt. This case is before the U.S. Supreme Court for (possibly a record-breaking) third time. This time the Supreme Court will decide whether to overrule Nevada v. Hall (1979), which permits a state to be sued in the courts of another state without its consent. In Hyatt II (2016), the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 on this question shortly after Justice Scalia died.   

By Briana Bell

The National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP, began in 1968 and has since focused on providing insurance to high-risk flood communities. The program, although intended to mitigate the financial effects of floods, has come under criticism from some who believe the...

The Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy Clause, which prohibits a person from being prosecuted more than once for the same conduct, is a familiar concept. Less familiar is the “separate sovereigns” exception which allows states and the federal government to convict and sentence a person for the same conduct. In Gamble v. United States, Terance Gamble asks the Supreme Court to overrule this exception.

Gamble was prosecuted for and convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon under both Alabama and United States law. His challenge to the “separate sovereigns” exception is unsurprising given that Justice Thomas joined Justice Ginsburg’s concurring opinion in Puerto Rico v. Sanchez-Valle (2016), which suggested the Court do a “fresh examination” of the “separate sovereigns” exception. These Justices are on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum and typically don’t vote together in close cases. 

The Supreme Court decides numerous difficult cases each term. It may be surprising that no issue has vexed the Court like whether probable cause to arrest someone means they can’t bring a First Amendment retaliation case. In Nieves v. Bartlett the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) argues in an amicus brief (for the third time) that probable cause defeats First Amendment retaliation claims.   

Russell Bartlett was attending Arctic Man, an Alaskan snowmobile race, when he declined to talk to Police officer Luis Nieves who was patrolling the large outdoor party. Officer Nieves later observed Bartlett yelling at a separate officer, Bryce Weight, and Weight pushing Bartlett away. Believing Bartlett posed a danger to Officer Weight, Officer Nieves arrested Bartlett. Bartlett alleges that Nieves said “bet you wish you had talked to me now” in the process of the arrest.

Bartlett sued Officer Nieves claiming Nieves arrested him in retaliation for his refusal to initially speak to Nieves in violation of the First Amendment. The district concluded there was probable cause to arrest Bartlett. All federal circuit courts to decide this issue except the Ninth Circuit have held that to bring a First Amendment retaliatory arrest case plaintiffs must be able to prove the absence of probable cause to arrest them, which Bartlett could do not in this case.

The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has touched off a battle between Republicans eager to reshape the court by moving Justice Anthony Kennedy’s “swing seat” to the right and Democrats desperate to ensure that any change is minimal. Much of the national conversation on a “Justice” Kavanaugh centers around his potential views on the social issues for which Kennedy was the swing vote, particularly abortion and overturning Roe v. Wade. Kavanaugh is something of an enigma on the issue: He stated at his confirmation hearing for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that he was bound by Roe v. Wade as precedent. But he named Chief Justice Rehnquist (who dissented in Roe) as a judicial hero, and he voted to uphold restrictions on abortion in certain situations while on the lower court.

On June 21, 2018 the White House unveiled a proposal to reform and reorganize various federal agencies. The Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century report proposed merging the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education into one new agency, the U.S. Department of Education and Workforce, or the DEW.

The proposal is result of the directive from Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, to identify and streamline duplicative federal offices and programs.

“They’re [U.S. departments of Labor and Education] doing the same thing, Mulvaney stated during the announcement. “They’re trying to get people ready for the workforce—sometimes it’s education, sometimes it’s vocational training—but all doing the same thing, so why not put them in the same place?”

The cost of nursing home/assisted living care has continued to rise. The average daily cost of nursing home care in the United States is $235, with a high of $800 per day in Alaska, and a low of $147 in Oklahoma. The increasing cost of care for loved ones has placed burden on the federal and state governments, as well as the American people searching for cheaper alternatives.

HR 2353, or the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, was reauthorized by President Donald Trump through fiscal year 2023, under the new title Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). The act was first established in 1984, then reauthorized in 1998, 2006 and now 2018 to increase the quality of career and technical education (CTE). This act adds $100 million over six years—an 11 percent increase over the fiscal year 2018 funding levels—aimed to expand the reach of CTE programs.

The opioid crisis has devastated families and communities across the nation. As a result, the federal government has begun drafting potential policy solutions that could help mitigate the effects of widespread opioid use. While Congress debates their options, they would do well to look to the states for guidance on the matter.

Several states have adopted innovative strategies that have allowed them to expand access to medication-assisted treatment, or MAT. MAT combines Food and Drug Administration-approved medication—...

California’s cap-and-trade program, launched in 2013, has been described as one of the most ambitious and aggressive in the world. It is one of a suite of major policies the state is using to lower its greenhouse gas, or GHG, emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. California’s program is the fourth largest in the world, after the cap-and-trade programs of the European Union, the Republic of Korea and the Chinese province of Guangdong.

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