Lisa Soronen

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States and local governments have an interest in their voter rolls being accurate. Voters have an interest in remaining registered to vote. These interests collide in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute.

This issue the Supreme Court will decide in this case is whether federal law allows states to remove people from the voter rolls if the state sends them a confirmation notice after they haven’t voted for two years, they don’t respond to the notice, and then they don’t vote in the next four years.

While Ohio is being sued in this case twelve other states use a similar scheme.  

States and local governments have an interest in their voter rolls being accurate. Voters have an interest in remaining registered to vote. These interests collide in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute.

This issue the Supreme Court will decide in this case is whether federal law allows states to remove people from the voter rolls if the state sends them a confirmation notice after they haven’t voted for two years, they don’t respond to the notice, and then they don’t vote in the next four years.

While Ohio is being sued in this case twelve other states use a similar scheme.  

In a unanimous opinion in County of Los Angeles v. Mendez the Supreme Court rejected the “provocation rule,” where police officers using reasonable force may be liable for violating the Fourth Amendment because they committed a separate Fourth Amendment violation that contributed to their need to use force. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to reject the Ninth Circuit’s provocation rule.

Police officer entered the shack Mendez was living in without a warrant and unannounced. Mendez thought the officers were the property owner and picked up the BB gun he used to shoot rats so he could stand up. When the officers saw the gun, they shot him resulting in his leg being amputated below the knee.  

For the most part and for now, Attorney General Jeff Session’s memo defining ”sanctuary jurisdictions” per President Trump’s sanctuary jurisdictions executive order (EO) returns the law to what it was before the EO.   

Per the EO, so-called sanctuary jurisdictions were afraid the federal government was going to take away all federal grant funding if, among other things, they did not comply with warrantless, voluntary Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers, which instruct jails to detain undocumented persons after they may be otherwise free to go so that ICE may pick them up and deport them.

Many cities and counties, even those that don’t label themselves sanctuary jurisdictions, don’t respond to warrantless ICE detainers because numerous courts have held that doing so violates the Fourth Amendment.

Cooper v. Harris raises an issue litigated over and over since the 2010 census. Challengers claim the North Carolina legislature unconstitutionally packed minority voters into a few legislative districts to lessen their ability to influence races in other districts. The Supreme Court agreed holding 5-3 that a North Carolina District Court correctly ruled that North Carolina relied too heavily on race in designing two majority-minority congressional districts.

The Supreme Court has held that per the Equal Protection Clause if the use of race predominates in redistricting the district’s design must be “narrowly tailored” to serve a “compelling interest.” Complying with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which prohibits vote dilution— “dispersal of [a group’s members] into districts in which they constitute an ineffective minority of voters”—is a compelling interest. A “strong basis in evidence” is needed to show the VRA requires race-based districting.  

In Kindred Nursing Centers v. Clark the Supreme Court held 7-1 that an arbitration agreement entered into by a power of attorney may still be valid even if the power of attorney doesn’t specifically say the representative may enter into arbitration agreements.

Beverly Wellner and Janis Clark moved their husband and mother, respectively, into a nursing home using their powers of attorney. Both wanted to sue the nursing home in court after their relative died. But both had signed contracts stating that any claims would be resolved through arbitration.

The Kentucky Supreme Court concluded that Wellner’s power of attorney wasn’t broad enough to allow her to enter into an arbitration agreement but Clark’s was. Regardless, the court held that both arbitration agreements were invalid because “a power of attorney could not entitle a representative to enter into an arbitration agreement without specifically saying so.” According to the Kentucky Supreme Court, this is because the right to a jury trial under the Kentucky Constitution is the only right declared “sacred” and “inviolate.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review the Fourth Circuit’s decision holding that North Carolina’s voter ID law is unconstitutional and violates the Voting Rights Act.

The Fourth Circuit ruling received a lot of attention because in a sharply worded opinion, which overruled a district court decision, it held the North Carolina’s voter ID law intentionally discriminates against black voters. Most courts which have struck down voter ID laws have done so on the grounds they have a disparate impact on minority voters.  

Imagine how often when police officers are deciding whether to arrest someone they are told a version of a story they don’t find believable. In a Supreme Court amicus brief in District of Columbia v. Wesby the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) argues that the D.C. Circuit erred by applying an inflexible rule that when officers are making arrest decisions they must believe a suspect’s version of the story, even when circumstantial evidence indicates otherwise.

In this case police officers arrested a group of late-night partygoers for trespass. The party-goers gave police conflicting reasons for why they were at the house (birthday party v. bachelor party). Some said “Peaches” invited them to the house; others said they were invited by another guest. Police officers called Peaches who told them she gave the partygoers permission to use the house. But she admitted that she had no permission to use the house herself; she was in the process of renting it. The landlord confirmed by phone that Peaches hadn’t signed a lease. The partygoers were never charged with trespass.

On May 7, 2017, Governor Abbott signed SB 4 into law in Texas. Among numerous other things, it requires local governments to honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers, punishable by a Class A misdemeanor.

Many cities and counties don’t respond to warrantless ICE detainers because numerous courts have held that doing so violates the Fourth Amendment. Last month a federal district court concluded that to the extent President Trump’s sanctuary jurisdictions executive order requires honoring warrantless ICE detainers “it is likely unconstitutional under the Tenth Amendment because it seeks to compel the states and local jurisdictions to enforce a federal regulatory program through coercion.”

In Bank of America v. Miami the Supreme Court held 5-3 that local governments have “standing” to bring Fair Housing Act (FHA) lawsuits against banks alleging discriminatory lending practices. But to win these claims local governments must show that their injuries were more than merely foreseeable. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case on the side of the City of Miami.    

Miami claims that Bank of America and Wells Fargo intentionally issued riskier mortgages on less favorable terms to African-American and Latino customers than similarly situated white customers in violation of the FHA. Miami further claims these discriminatory practices caused foreclosures and vacancies which harmed the city by decreasing property values, reducing property tax revenue, and increasing costs to the city.  

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