Government

After postponing a decision about whether to hear the notorious “cake case” 14 times, the Supreme Court has granted the petition in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

The issue in this case is whether Colorado's public accommodations law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, violates a cake artist’s First Amendment free speech and free exercise rights.

The owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Jack C. Phillips, declined to design and make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs.

After postponing a decision about whether to hear the notorious “cake case” 14 times, the Supreme Court has granted the petition in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

The issue in this case is whether Colorado's public accommodations law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, violates a cake artist’s First Amendment free speech and free exercise rights.

The owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Jack C. Phillips, declined to design and make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs.

In Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association the Supreme Court will decide whether the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) prohibition against state-sanctioned sports gambling is unconstitutional commandeering.

New Jersey first amended its constitution to allow some sports gambling and then passed a law repealing restrictions on sports gambling. In both instances New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was sued for violating PASPA. In both cases Christie responded that PASPA unconstitutionally commandeers states in violation of the Tenth Amendment.

In Pavan v. Smith, a per curiam (unauthored) decision heard without briefing or oral argument, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed an Arkansas Supreme Court judgment that an Arkansas statute, which allows only the biological mother of a child born to a same-sex married couple to be listed on the birth certificate, is constitutional.

Terrah and Marisa Pavan married in New Hampshire in 2011, and Terrah gave birth to a child in Arkansas in 2015. The Arkansas Department of Health issued a certificate bearing only Terrah’s name based on a provision of the Arkansas code specifying that “[i]f the mother was married at the time of either conception or birth . . . the name of [her] husband shall be entered on the certificate as the father of the child.” This provision applies even if a child is conceived through artificial insemination, as the Pavan’s daughter was, and it is impossible that the mother’s husband is the child’s biological father.

In Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer the Supreme Court held 7-2 that Missouri violated Trinity Lutheran Church’s free exercise of religion rights when it refused, on the basis of religion, to award the Church a grant to resurface its playground with recycled tires.

Trinity’s preschool ranked fifth among 44 applicants to receive a grant from Missouri’s Scrap Tire Program. Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) informed the preschool it didn’t receive a grant because Missouri’s constitution prohibits public funds from being used “directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, or denomination of religion.” Trinity sued the DNR claiming it violated the Church’s First Amendment free exercise of religion rights.

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. 

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.

In a unanimous opinion, in which Justice Gorsuch participated, in Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates the Supreme Court held that an intervenor must possess Article III standing to intervene in a lawsuit as a matter of right if he or she wishes to pursue relief not requested by the plaintiff. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case supporting the Town of Chester.  

Steven Sherman sued the Town of Chester alleging an unconstitutional taking as the town “obstructed his plans” to build a subdivision. Laroe Estates paid $2.5 million to Sherman for the property while Sherman went through the regulatory process. Laroe Estates sought to intervene in the lawsuit suit.

In a unanimous opinion, in which Justice Gorsuch participated, in Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates the Supreme Court held that an intervenor must possess Article III standing to intervene in a lawsuit as a matter of right if he or she wishes to pursue relief not requested by the plaintiff. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case supporting the Town of Chester.  

Steven Sherman sued the Town of Chester alleging an unconstitutional taking as the town “obstructed his plans” to build a subdivision. Laroe Estates paid $2.5 million to Sherman for the property while Sherman went through the regulatory process. Laroe Estates sought to intervene in the lawsuit suit.

Money flowing into states from the federal government—either to individuals or through state and local governments—has a big impact on a state’s economy. In 2015, federal spending made up 19 percent of state economic activity, or gross domestic product (GDP). In five states—Alabama, Mississippi, New Mexico, Virginia and West Virginia—federal spending was 30 percent or more of GDP in 2015.

Pages