Capitol Comments

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...

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