Lisa Soronen

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In T-Mobile South v. City of Roswell the Supreme Court will decide whether a letter denying a cell tower construction application that doesn’t explain the reasons for the denial meets the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TCA) “in writing” requirement.  The State and Local Legal Center’s (SLLC) amicus brief argues it does.  This case will...

Even though the Supreme Court’s next term won’t officially begin until October 6, the Court has already accepted about 40 of the 70 or so cases it will decide in the upcoming months. 

For a more detailed summary of all the cases the Court has accepted so far affecting states, read the State and Local Legal Center’s Supreme Court Preview for State Governments.

Here is a quick highlight of what is on the Court’s docket right now that will...

In Comptroller v. Wynne the Supreme Court will determine whether the U.S. Constitution requires states to give a credit for taxes paid on income earned out-of-state. 

Forty-three states and nearly 5,000 local governments tax residents’ income.  Many of these jurisdictions do not provide a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for income taxes paid to other states on income earned out-of-state.  A decision against Maryland’s Comptroller in this case...

In Harris v. Quinn the Supreme Court held 5-4 that the First Amendment prohibits the collection of an agency fee from home health care providers who do not wish to join or support a union. 

Medicaid recipients who would otherwise be institutionalized may hire personal assistants.  In Illinois, the Medicaid recipient is the employer and is responsible for almost all aspects of the employment relationship.  But the personal assistant is a state employee for collective bargaining purposes.  A number of personal assistants did not want to join the union or pay it dues. 

Even though it has been a few weeks since the opinion was handed down, unless you happen to read Land Use Prof Blog you probably have no idea that the birth control mandate case is likely to affect land use regulation. 

As usual, on the last day of the Supreme Court’s term it released its opinion in the biggest case of the term:  Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.  The Court held 5-4 that the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), as applied to closely held corporations.  

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief, which Justice Ginsburg quoted in her dissenting opinion, because of the possible effect on land use. 

Supreme Court Justices aren’t usually in the advice-giving business.  But the Chief Justice made an exception in a recent case involving regulating speech outside abortion clinics.  Interestingly, his advice is aimed directly at state legislatures.  And it is simple.  Buffer zone:  no.  State statutes criminalizing injury, intimidation, interference, harassment, and obstruction at clinics: yes.

Warrantless searches of cellphones?  Simple question.  Simple answer.  No (generally).  

In Riley v. California the Supreme Court held unanimously that generally police must first obtain a warrant before searching an arrested person’s cellphone.

Police searched David Riley’s cell phone after he was arrested on gun charges and found evidence of gang activity.  In a second case, police arrested Brima Wurie for selling drugs and used his cell phone to figure out where he lived—where they found more drugs and guns.    

The Fourth Amendment requires police to obtain a warrant before they conduct a search unless an exception applies.  The exception at issue in this case is a search incident to a lawful arrest.

Law and not policy is supposed to be the basis upon which courts decide cases.  Yet the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding permitting stationary sources that emit greenhouse gases is full of as much policy as law.  The Court’s bottom line is this:  The burdens on the states of giving EPA everything it wants are simply too much.

The Clean Air Act regulates pollution-generating emissions from stationary source (factories, power plants, etc.) and moving sources (cars, trucks, planes, etc.).  In 2007 in Massachusetts v. EPA the Court held EPA could regulate greenhouse gases emissions from new motor vehicles.  As a result of that case, EPA concluded it was required or permitted to apply permitting requirements to all stationary sources that emitted greenhouse gases in excess of statutory thresholds. 

In Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA the Court held 5-4 that EPA cannot require stationary sources to obtain Clean Air Act permits only because they emit greenhouse gases.  But, the Court concluded 7-2, EPA may require “anyway” stationary sources, which have to obtain permits based on their emissions of other pollutants, to comply with “best available control technology” BACT emission standards for greenhouse gases. 

The Supreme Court held unanimously that the First Amendment protects a public employee who provides truthful sworn testimony, compelled by a subpoena, outside the course of his or her ordinary responsibilities

But what about the much more likely scenario:  An employee provides truthful sworn testimony, compelled by a subpoena, which is part of an employee’s ordinary responsibilities?  The Court explicitly says it doesn’t say.

Most states have state laws prohibiting false statements against candidates.  Are they constitutional?  Well the Supreme Court didn’t decide…

In Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus the Supreme Court held unanimously that Susan B. Anthony List (SBA) had alleged a “sufficiently imminent injury” to bring a preenforcement challenge to the constitutionality of Ohio’s campaign “false statements” statute.  

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