Supreme Court

The Supreme Court will decide in McCullen v. Coakley whether a Massachusetts statute prohibiting speech within 35-feet of a reproductive health care facility violates the First Amendment.  The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case.  From the perspective of the Massachusetts legislature, no good deed goes unpunished.  

Massachusetts law, which was modeled around a Colorado statute the Court held constitutional, initially allowed protesters to come within six feet of those entering a clinic within an 18-foot buffer zone around the clinic.  Protesters would crowd six feet from a clinic door making entry into the clinic difficult and intimidating.  So in 2007 Massachusetts adopted a 35-foot fixed buffer zone around clinics.  The First Circuit held that this statute is a constitutional time, place, and manner regulation of speech because numerous communication channels remain available to protesters.

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...

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...

In a compromise decision that avoids the hot-button political issue of affirmative action in postsecondary education, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled a federal appeals court was wrong to dismiss a case that the University of Texas illegally discriminated against a white college student when it rejected her application for admission.

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