In Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer the Supreme Court held 7-2 that Missouri violated Trinity Lutheran Church’s free exercise of religion rights when it refused, on the basis of religion, to award the Church a grant to resurface its playground with recycled tires.

Trinity’s preschool ranked fifth among 44 applicants to receive a grant from Missouri’s Scrap Tire Program. Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) informed the preschool it didn’t receive a grant because Missouri’s constitution prohibits public funds from being used “directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, or denomination of religion.” Trinity sued the DNR claiming it violated the Church’s First Amendment free exercise of religion rights.

States and local governments don’t particularly care that trademarks aren’t government speech. But they do care about the breadth of the government speech doctrine because government speech is not protected by the First Amendment (meaning governments can say what they want and exclude messages they disagree with).

One small caveat for state legislature: most states have adopted the Model State Trademark Act, which bars state trademark registration on the same basis as Section 2(1) of the Lanham Act, discussed below. 

In a unanimous opinion, in which Justice Gorsuch participated, in Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates the Supreme Court held that an intervenor must possess Article III standing to intervene in a lawsuit as a matter of right if he or she wishes to pursue relief not requested by the plaintiff. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case supporting the Town of Chester.  

Steven Sherman sued the Town of Chester alleging an unconstitutional taking as the town “obstructed his plans” to build a subdivision. Laroe Estates paid $2.5 million to Sherman for the property while Sherman went through the regulatory process. Laroe Estates sought to intervene in the lawsuit suit.

In a unanimous opinion, in which Justice Gorsuch participated, in Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates the Supreme Court held that an intervenor must possess Article III standing to intervene in a lawsuit as a matter of right if he or she wishes to pursue relief not requested by the plaintiff. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case supporting the Town of Chester.  

Steven Sherman sued the Town of Chester alleging an unconstitutional taking as the town “obstructed his plans” to build a subdivision. Laroe Estates paid $2.5 million to Sherman for the property while Sherman went through the regulatory process. Laroe Estates sought to intervene in the lawsuit suit.

The Seventh Circuit has become the first federal circuit court of appeals to rule that employees may bring sexual orientation discrimination claims under Title VII. This case directly affects state and local governments in their capacity as employers in Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate on the basis of a person’s “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

Kimberly Hively is openly lesbian. She sued Ivy Tech Community College where she taught as a part-time, adjunct professor. She applied for at least six full-time positions between 2009 and 2014, didn’t receive any of them, and in July 2014 her part-time contract was not renewed. She believes her sexual orientation is the reason.  

Prevailing wage laws are created by state governments or local municipalities to set a rate of pay that is thought to be standard for a labor group contracted to do public-sector projects in that area. Twenty-nine states currently have prevailing wage laws. Since 2015, three states have repealed their laws and a number of states are considering repeal this year. 

Prevailing wage laws are laws created by state governments or local municipalities to set a rate of pay that is thought to be standard for a labor group contracted to do public-sector projects in that area. The standard rate of pay is oftentimes determined by analyzing local wage data and identifying the median or average rate of pay for a labor group or project.Twenty-nine states currently have prevailing wage laws.

With President-elect Donald Trump set to take office in January, all eyes are on the administration’s transition process, a sweeping and intensive effort that requires the participation of public servants from all levels of the federal government. While the transition looks different from president-elect to president-elect, there are a few key components that are universal to all successful transitions, Edmund Moy, the former director of the United States Mint who worked on George W. Bush’s transition team, told attendees at the “The Next Presidential Administration & Relations with the States” session Dec. 10 at the 2016 CSG National Conference in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. 

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.  

The issue in Lee v. Tam is whether Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, which bars the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) from registering scandalous, immoral, or disparaging marks, violates the First Amendment.

Simon Shiao Tam named his band The Slants to “reclaim” and “take ownership” of Asian stereotypes. The PTO refused to register the band name finding it likely disparaging to persons of Asian descent. Tam sued the PTO arguing that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act violates the First Amendment Free Speech Clause.  

Pages