Lisa Soronen

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The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) has filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to agree to hear South Dakota’s petition in South Dakota v. Wayfair. In this case South Dakota is asking the Supreme Court to hold that states may require out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax.

In Quill Corp. v. North Dakota (1992), the Supreme Court held that states cannot require retailers with no in-state physical presence to collect sales tax.

In this Ohio v. American Express Ohio has asked the Supreme Court to offer guidance on its “rule of reason” test under antitrust law. The “quick-look” version of this test requires the government to show anticompetitive harms and the defendant to show procompetitive benefits. The party proving greater harms or benefits wins. This case is relevant to states because 11, including Ohio, have sued American Express claiming one of its contract provisions with merchants accepting American Express credit cards violates the Sherman Act (antitrust law).  

American Express charges merchants who accept its credit card higher fees than its competitors. American Express’s standard contract non-discriminatory provision (NDP) requires merchants to not say or imply that they prefer any payment method over American Express.   

In Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission the Supreme Court will decide 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 State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief supporting Colorado arguing that the Court should not create an exception to Colorado’s public accommodations law for wedding businesses. 

According to the National Council of State Legislatures, 21 other states have public accommodations laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Numerous local governments have adopted similar ordinances.

For a while it seemed certain the Supreme Court would rule on the legality of the Clean Power Plan (CPP). With new regulations proposed to rescind the CPP, Supreme Court review seems less and less likely.  

If there was ever any doubt that President Trump’s March 28 executive order (EO) Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, which called for the “suspending, revising, or rescinding,” of the CPP would not ultimately lead to the repeal of the CPP, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule states directly that it will.

If Attorney General Jeff Sessions has his way the answer will be yes he told the Senate Judiciary Committee shortly after two federal district courts temporarily prevented the third travel ban from going into effect.

The president’s March 6 executive order (the second travel ban) prevented people from six predominately Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days. In June the Supreme Court temporarily prevented it from going into effect against those with a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United State” until the Court could hear the case on the merits in early October.

South Dakota has filed a petition in South Dakota v. Wayfair asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a challenge to its law requiring out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax.

In Quill Corp. v. North Dakota (1992), the Supreme Court held that states cannot require retailers with no in-state physical presence to collect sales tax.

In March 2015 Justice Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion stating that the “legal system should find an appropriate case for this Court to reexamine Quill.” Justice Kennedy criticized Quill in Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl for many of the same reasons the State and Local Legal Center stated in its amicus brief. Specifically, internet sales have risen astronomically since 1992 and states and local governments are unable to collect most taxes due on sales from out-of-state vendors.

The Fifth Amendment says no person shall be “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” The question the Supreme Court will decide in Hays, Kansas v. Vogt is whether the Fifth Amendment is violated when a public employee’s compelled, self-incriminating statements are used against him or her at a probable cause hearing rather than at a trial. 

In Garrity v. New Jersey (1967) the Supreme Court held that public employers violate the Fifth Amendment when they give employees a choice between “self-incrimination or job forfeiture,” which is what Matthew Vogt claimed happened to him.

All eyes and ears were focused on Justice Kennedy during the Supreme Court’s oral argument in Gill v. Whitford. In this case the Court is asked to decide whether and when it is possible to bring a claim that partisan gerrymandering (redistricting to advantage one political party) is unconstitutional.

In the 2012 election, Republican candidates in Wisconsin received less than 49% of the statewide vote and won seats in more than 60% of the state’s assembly districts; and, in 2014, 52% of the vote yielded 63 seats for Republicans.

At the Supreme Court’s “long conference,” where it decides which petitions—that have been piling up all summer—to accept, the Court agreed to hear two unrelated cases involving car searches.

Per the Fourth Amendment police officers generally need a warrant to search a car. However, per the automobile exception officers may search a car that is “readily mobile” without a warrant if officers have probable cause to believe they will find contraband or a crime has been committed.

In 2016 the Supreme Court was expected to overrule a nearly 40-year old precedent requiring public sector employees who don’t join the union to pay their “fair share” of collective bargaining costs. Justice Scalia died shortly after the Court heard oral argument in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. The Court ultimately issued a 4-4 decision which, practically speaking, kept Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977) on the books.

With a ninth Justice now on the bench the Supreme Court has agreed to try again to decide whether to overturn Abood in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. More than 20 states authorize fair share for public sector employees.

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