Lisa Soronen

Author Articles

The Supreme Court wants to resolve an issue but it cannot.  Why?  Because the cases it has accepted involving the issue keep on settling right before oral argument. 

For the second time in two years, the parties have settled a dispute before the Supreme Court over whether the Fair Housing Act (FHA) allows plaintiffs to bring disparate impact claims.  Local governments across the country have been subject to these claims. 
 
The FHA makes it unlawful to refuse to sell or rent a property to any person because of...

Last term the Supreme Court heard two Clean Water Act case.  This term the Court has accepted two significant Clean Air Act (CAA) cases—one involving regulating upwind states who pollute downwind states and the other involving regulating greenhouse gases from stationary sources.  Both cases involve states siding with or against the EPA and each other.  The Supreme Court agreed to hear the latter case, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, earlier this month. 

Court watchers look forward to the Supreme Court’s “long” conference every year.  After a three-month recess from July 1 until the first Monday in October the Court grants no petitions for review.   During its “long” conference this year the Court considered whether to hear about 2,000 cases.  On October first it accepted eight of those cases, one where the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) will file an amicus brief.

In Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States the Court will decide who owns an abandoned railroad right-of-way:  the United States or a private land owner living next to the right-of-way.

As CSG implements its Focus on Federalism Initiative, the Supreme Court is a good place to keep an eye on.  The Court relied heavily on federalism when striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act last term.  Sprint Communications Company v. Jacobs won’t be a blockbuster decision like those two cases, but the Justices will take into account federalism when ruling in this case.  CSG signed onto a State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) Supreme Court amicus brief in this case.

Younger abstention requires federal courts to refrain from interfering with ongoing state court proceedings in some circumstances.  The question before the Supreme Court in Sprint is when exactly does Younger abstention apply? Should federal courts abstain from deciding a case when there is a related state proceeding that is “remedial” not “coercive”?

The Supreme Court’s October Term 2013 already promises to be a big one for states even though the Court has thirty or so more cases to accept.  Here is a highlight of a few of the cases the Court has agreed to hear so far affecting state government.

In Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action the Court will decide whether a state constitutional amendment banning affirmative action by public...

As discussed in this recent posting, the Supreme Court has had an active term for federalism between issuing rulings in two same-sex marriage cases, striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, and clarifying the legal standard for affirmative action in universities.  While it largely went unnoticed, the Supreme Court also issued its third ruling of the term involving takings.  The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case which CSG signed onto.      

The U.S. Supreme Court’s October Term 2012 includes a number of significant cases affecting the states including two same-sex marriage cases, a challenge to the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and a claim that the National Voting Registration Act preempts Arizona’s evidence-of-citizenship requirement to register to vote.
 

This term the U.S. Supreme Court will hear at least five cases involving Fourth Amendment searches.  Two involve drug sniffing dogs, one involves warrantless blood draws from DUI suspects, and another involves detaining a person who has left the premises before executing a search warrant.  In Maryland v. King the Supreme Court will decide whether the Fourth Amendment allows states to collect and analyze DNA, without a warrant, from people arrested and charged with serious crimes. 

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in Maryland v. King, which CSG signed onto, because this case involves a challenge to the constitutionality of a state statute.  In fact, twenty-eight states and the federal government have adopted DNA arrest laws. 

Remember Nollan and Dolan?  The U.S. Supreme Court will decide a case which the Florida Supreme Court calls the clearest inconsistency in the interpretation of the scope of Nollan and Dolan in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District.  CSG signed onto an amicus brief filed by State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) in this case.  

Need a Nollan and Dolan refresher?  In these cases the U.S. Supreme Court held that when the government requests the dedication of land as a condition for issuing a permit there must be an “essential nexus” between the dedication of land and denying the permit and “rough proportionality” between the dedication of land and the impact of the development.   

Remember Nollan and Dolan?  The U.S. Supreme Court will decide a case which the Florida Supreme Court calls the clearest inconsistency in the interpretation of the scope of Nollan and Dolan in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District.  CSG signed onto an amicus brief filed by State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) in this case.  

Need a Nollan and Dolan refresher?  In these cases the U.S. Supreme Court held that when the government requests the dedication of land as a condition for issuing a permit there must be an “essential nexus” between the dedication of land and denying the permit and “rough proportionality” between the dedication of land and the impact of the development.   

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