Lisa Soronen

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On the campaign trail President Trump promised to cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities who do not cooperate with the federal government in enforcing federal immigration law. True to his word, President Trump has signed an executive order stating that sanctuary cities are “not eligible to receive Federal grants,” with some unclear exceptions.   

Whether and when this executive order will lead to cities losing federal funding, and how much, is unknown. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to sue the federal government “the minute action to withhold funding” occurs.

In its amicus brief in County of Los Angeles v. Mendez the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) asks the Supreme Court to reject the “provocation” rule, where any time a police officer violates the Fourth Amendment and violence ensues, the officer will be personally liable for money damages for the resulting physical injuries.

Everyone agrees police officers used reasonable force when they shot Angel Mendez. As officers entered, unannounced, the shack where Mendez was staying they saw a silhouette of Mendez pointing what looked like a rifle at them. The Ninth Circuit awarded him and his wife damages because the officers didn’t have a warrant in violation of the Fourth Amendment to search the shack thereby “provoking” Mendez.

President Obama, like most of the Presidents that recently preceded him, issued about 300 executive orders. On the campaign trail President Trump promised to cancel President Obama’s “unconstitutional” executive orders. Meanwhile, in his first days in office President Trump has signed a number of executive orders of his own.    

Through executive orders Presidents are able to direct the work of administrative agencies and implement authority granted to the President by a federal statute or the U.S. Constitution.

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether federal courts of appeals versus federal district courts (lower courts) have the authority to rule whether the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) regulations are lawful.

Numerous states and local governments have challenged the WOTUS regulations. In National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense the Supreme Court will not rule whether the regulations are lawful. Instead, they will simply decide which court gets to take the first crack at deciding whether they are lawful.

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to get rid of numerous federal regulations adopted by the Obama Administration. Impossible many say. If there is one man who may be able to make this happen it is Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Three of the most important regulations to state and local government were the subject of litigation likely headed to the Supreme Court before Trump was elected:  the Clean Power Plan (CPP) (President Obama’s signature climate change measure), the regulations defining “waters of the...

President-elect Donald Trump has stated repeatedly that one of the goals of his new administration is to get rid of federal regulations. Despite the fact that the new administration has a menu of options to kill final federal regulations the most effective options are likely the most difficult to achieve.

This blog posting uses as examples three of the most important regulations to state and local government—all of which are on the chopping block:  the Clean Power Plan (CPP) (President Obama’s signature climate change measure), the regulations defining “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) (a significant term in the Clean Water Act defining the federal government’s jurisdiction to regulate water), and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime regulations (extending overtime pay to 4 million workers).

The Supreme Court issued a unanimous per curiam (unauthored) opinion overturning a lower court’s denial of qualified immunity to a police officer in an excessive force case. White v. Pauly was decided without oral argument.

The question the Supreme Court will decide in Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman is whether state “no-surcharge” laws that prohibit vendors from charging more to credit-card customers but allows them to charge less to cash customers violate the First Amendment. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) amicus brief argues these laws don’t violate the First Amendment because they regulate conduct rather than speech.

Per a “no-surcharge” law if the regular price of an item is $100 credit-card customers may not be charged $103 and cash customers $100. But if the regular price is $103 credit-card customers may be charged $103 and cash customers $100.   

The Supreme Court refused to hear a case involving the question of whether a Colorado law requiring remote sellers to inform Colorado purchasers annually of their purchases and send the same information to the Colorado Department of Revenue is unconstitutional. As is always the case, the Supreme Court gave no reason for denying the petition.   

In Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, decided in 1992, the Supreme Court held that states cannot require retailers with no in-state physical presence to collect sales tax. In 2010 the Colorado legislature passed the law described above to improve sales tax collection. The Direct Marketing Association sued Colorado claiming the law unconstitutionally discriminates against interstate commerce and is unconstitutional under Quill.   

The False Claims Act (FCA) allows third parties to sue on behalf of the United States for fraud committed against the United States. Per the Act a FCA complaint is kept secret “under seal” until the United States can review it and decide whether it wants to participate in the case.

In State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. v. United States ex rel. Rigsby the Supreme Court held unanimously that if the seal requirement is violated the complaint doesn’t have to be dismissed.

While the Supreme Court has yet to rule whether states and local governments can bring FCA claims, local governments, but not state governments, can be sued for making false claims against the federal government.  

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