Policy Area

On its last opinion day of the term, the Supreme Court announced that it would rule on the constitutionality of the Trump administration’s revised travel ban. In the meantime to the extent the executive order prevents foreign nationals and refugees “who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” from entering the United States, it may go into effect until the Supreme Court rules on the merits of this case.   

The president’s first executive order prevented people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days, froze decisions on refugee applications for 120 days, and capped total refugee admissions at 50,000 for fiscal year 2017.

The Ninth Circuit temporarily struck it down, concluding this executive order was not religion-neutral, and that it likely violated the due process rights of lawful permanent residents, nonimmigrant visa holders, and refugees.

With growing mass transit needs and uncertainty about the future of federal funding, states like Georgia and Colorado look for new solutions to expand and maintain their transit systems. It has been suggested that the federal infrastructure investment President Donald Trump campaigned on could attract $1 trillion from the private sector. But his budget proposal shows federal cuts to transit, placing much of the responsibility for funding transit projects on localities...

In February 2016, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed into law a plan to spend $4.8 billion on state infrastructure over the next 10 years. RhodeWorks, as the plan is known, received significant attention for including a new funding mechanism—tolls on heavy commercial trucks—and a focus on bringing the state’s aging bridges up to snuff.

In Ziglar v. Abbasi, the Supreme Court in a 4-2 decision granted a number of high level federal executive agency officials qualified immunity related to a claim they conspired to violate the equal protection rights of a number of undocumented immigrants held on suspicion of a connection to terrorism after September 11, 2001. 

State and local government officials can be sued for money damages in their individual capacity if they violate a person’s constitutional rights.  Qualified immunity protects government officials from such lawsuits where the law they violated isn’t “clearly established.”

This case doesn’t involve any state or local government officials. But every qualified immunity case matters.

States and local governments don’t particularly care that trademarks aren’t government speech. But they do care about the breadth of the government speech doctrine because government speech is not protected by the First Amendment (meaning governments can say what they want and exclude messages they disagree with).

One small caveat for state legislature: most states have adopted the Model State Trademark Act, which bars state trademark registration on the same basis as Section 2(1) of the Lanham Act, discussed below. 

In Packingham v. North Carolina the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a North Carolina law making it a felony for a registered sex offender to access social networking sites where minors can create profiles violates the First Amendment Free Speech Clause. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief arguing for the opposite result. 

Lester Packingham was charged with violating the North Carolina statute because he praised God on Facebook when a parking ticket was dismissed.

Georgia’s 6th District Special Election to replace now Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price’s, House seat will be one for the history books. The money spent and the voter turnout for this election quickly turned unprecedented as this seat became a crucial battle between the Republican and Democrat parties. This closely watched election is taking place against the backdrop of a potential data breach of 6.5 million voter records maintained by the Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems.  The center assists the Georgia Secretary of State and all 159 Georgia counties in administering election operations and voting machines deployed statewide.

In Gill v. Whitford the Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether and when it is possible to bring a claim that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional.  

While the Court has repeatedly struck down district maps that rely on racial gerrymandering, it has never ruled that maps drawn to secure partisan advantage are unconstitutional. In 2004, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy – who may be the deciding vote in Whitford – wrote a concurring opinion indicating that partisan gerrymandering could be unconstitutional.

This eCademy webinar will provide an overview of the challenges and successes of the new presidential administration and the 115th Congress in pursuing their legislative agendas and what lies in the road ahead. We will analyze both what has been accomplished and what has failed and the political dynamics underlying the approach to governing.

The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accord has galvanized climate action at the state and local level. A group of 12 states have formed a coalition, called the United States Climate Alliance, to meet Paris climate commitments and fill the void left by the U.S. government.

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