Lisa Soronen

Author Articles

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.

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.

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.

In North Carolina v. Covington the Supreme Court issued a three-page unauthored opinion ordering a North Carolina district court to reconsider its decision to remedy unconstitutional racial gerrymandering by truncating existing legislators’ terms and holding a special election.

In United States v. Carpenter the Supreme Court will decide whether police must obtain warrants per the Fourth Amendment to require wireless carriers to provide cell-site data. State and local governments have an interest in obtaining cell-site data as quickly and easily as possible as it can provide solid evidence a particular person was near the scene of a crime.  

Cellphones work by establishing a radio connection with the nearest cell tower. Towers project signals in different directions or “sectors.” In urban areas, cell sites typically cover from between a half-mile to two miles. Wireless companies maintain cell-site information for phone calls.

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.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to review the Fourth Circuit’s recent decision temporarily preventing the President’s revised travel ban from going into effect. Numerous states supported both side as amici in the litigation. Numerous local goverments supported the challengers.

The President’s first executive order prevented people from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days. The Ninth Circuit temporarily struck it down concluding it likely violated the due process rights of lawful permanent residents, non-immigrant visa holders, and refugees.

The President’s second executive order prevents people from six predominately Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days but only applies to new visa applicants and allows for case-by-case waivers.  

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