Lisa Soronen

Author Articles

A federal district court has issued a temporary nationwide injunction requiring the Trump administration to maintain much of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Four states (California, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota) and two local governments (San Jose and Santa Clara County) are among the plaintiffs who sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

DACA was established through a DHS Memorandum during the Obama presidency. The program allows undocumented persons who arrived in the United States before age 16 and have lived here since June 15, 2007, to stay, work, and go to school in the United States without facing the risk of deportation for two years with renewals available.

DHS rescinded DACA on September 5, 2017, after receiving a letter from the Attorney General stating the program was unconstitutional and created “without proper statutory authority.”

Since 2010 states and local governments have been waiting for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to issue regulations requiring them to increase website, equipment and furniture, and 9-1-1 accessibility for persons with disabilities. The wait is over; the regulations are no longer in the works (for now).

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits states and local governments from discriminating on the basis of disability in “all services, programs, and activities provided to the public.”

In 2010 DOJ issued three Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemaking indicating its desire to issue regulations regarding accessibility of state and local government websites and non-fixed equipment and furniture and use of Next Generation 9-1-1. While DOJ has been silent on the latter two issues since 2010, in 2016 it issued a supplemental advance notice regarding website accessibility

As of December 26, 2016, DOJ has withdrawn all four Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemaking while it evaluates whether promulgating regulations is “necessary and appropriate.” 

Before the start of the year, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco continued the trend, started last year with the sanctuary jurisdictions executive order, of cities suing the federal government.

In their recently filed compliant these cities ask a federal district court in Virginia to order the military to comply with a federal statute requiring federal agencies (including the military) to inform the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) when the agency “has a record demonstrating” that a person has, among other things, committed a crime that prevents him or her from possessing a firearm.

The Ninth Circuit opinion temporarily striking down President Trump’s third travel ban was met with little fanfare likely for two reasons. The decision came down right before Christmas (December 22). And in early December the Supreme Court allowed the third travel ban to go into effect until the Supreme Court rules on it, even if the Ninth Circuit (or Fourth Circuit) were to strike it down in the meantime.   

Imagine this scenario:  husband buys life insurance and designates his wife as the beneficiary. A few years later the state adopts a revocation-upon-divorce statute applicable to life insurance beneficiaries which states that upon divorce the designation of a spouse as a life insurance beneficiary is revoked. A few years after that the couple divorces but the husband never changes his life insurance beneficiary. A few years after that the husband dies.

Is the ex-wife still the beneficiary?

In ...

What if a state legislature engages in intentional partisan gerrymandering but it doesn’t work or might not work in the future? Has it violated the First Amendment?

In Benisek v. Lamone in 2011 the Maryland legislature needed to move about 10,000 voters out of the Sixth Congressional District to comply with “one-person one-vote.” It moved about 360,000 Marylanders out of the district and about 350,000 Marylanders in the district. As a result only 34 percent of voters were registered Republican versus 47 percent before redistricting.

Following the redistricting Democrat John Delaney defeated the incumbent Republican by almost 21 percent. But two years later in 2014 Delaney almost lost his seat even though his challenger didn’t live in the district and raised less money. Two years after that Republican Larry Hogan won the Sixth District beating his rival by 14 percent.

State-action immunity provides states and, in some instances, local governments immunity from federal antitrust liability. In Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District v. SolarCity the Supreme Court will decide whether a lower court’s refusal to rule state-action immunity applies to a particular entity may be appealed immediately or only after the case is fully litigated.

The Supreme Court has allowed the third travel ban to go into effect at least temporarily while two federal circuit courts of appeals review decisions from lower courts temporarily blocking enforcement of the travel ban. Even if the government loses before the appeals courts the travel ban will remain in effect until the Supreme Court rules on it or refuses to rule on it (unless the government doesn’t appeal to the Supreme Court).

The president’s 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.

The Fifth Amendment says no person shall be “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” In Hays, Kansas v. Vogt the Supreme Court has agreed to decide 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.

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief supporting the City of Hays arguing that the City should not be liable for the use of such statements because it has no control over how a prosecutor uses them. 

In April a federal district court issued a nationwide preliminary injunction preventing the Trump administration from enforcing the sanctuary jurisdictions portion of the Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States executive order (EO). The same court has made that injunction permanent. 

Section 9 of the EO says that jurisdictions that refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 are ineligible to receive federal grants. On its face Section 1373 prohibits local governments from restricting employee communication of immigration status information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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