Author: Lisa Soronen

Unpacking the “Bridgegate” Case

Kelly v. United States is a conflux of fascinating law and facts. The basic question the Supreme Court will decide is whether the masterminds of “Bridgegate” have committed fraud in violation of federal law. The more technical question is whether a public official “defrauds” the government of its property by advancing a “public policy reason”

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What You Need to Know About the Supreme Court Census Ruling

Chief Justice Roberts joined his more liberal colleagues (Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan) concluding the reasons Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross gave for adding the citizenship question to the 2020 census were pretextual in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). Presumably, Secretary Ross will now be able to offer different reasons for why he

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Local Government May Keep Peace Cross SCOTUS Rules

The Bladensburg Peace Cross may stay, the Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decision in American Legion v. American Humanist Association.  According to Justice Alito, writing for the majority of the Court: “It has become a prominent community landmark, and its removal or radical alteration at this date would be seen by many not as

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1st Amendment Doesn’t Apply to Private Entities Operating Public Access Channels

May a private entity running a public access channel ban speakers based on the content of their speech—something a government entity running the same channels could not do? Yes, the Supreme Court held in a 5-4 opinion in Manhattan Community Access Corporation v. Halleck. Why? Because the First Amendment doesn’t apply to private entities in

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Expect to See a Citizenship Question in the 2020 Census

Predicting the outcome of a Supreme Court case based on oral argument is foolhardy. But unless the more liberal Justices (Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan) are able to pick up the vote of a more conservative Justice (Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh) it seems likely the 2020 census will contain a question about citizenship.

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Why Timbs v. Indiana Won’t Have Much Impact

Timbs v. Indiana has received a lot of attention because it deals with a controversial subject—civil asset forfeitures. But as a practical matter this case is unlikely to have much of an impact. What this case now requires under the federal constitution has long since been required under state constitutions. In Timbs the Supreme Court

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Will the Supreme Court’s New Members Change the Court’s Stance on Gerrymandering?

The Supreme Court heard oral argument—yet again—in two cases arguing it should adopt a standard for when partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional. Before argument court watchers were focused on Chief Justice Roberts, but during argument Justice Kavanaugh stole the show. In 1986 in Davis v. Bandemer six Supreme Court Justices agreed that some amount of partisan

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Permits and Pollution: Next Steps for the Clean Water Act

If a state or local government discharges a pollutant from a point source to a navigable water it must obtain a permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA). But what if that pollutant is conveyed in something—say groundwater—between the point source and the navigable water? Must the state or local government still obtain a permit?

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Supreme Court to Review Census Citizenship Question

In April the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that will determine whether a citizenship question will appear in the 2020 census. A decision in Department of Commerce v. New York is expected by the end of June, in time presumably to include or exclude the question from the print version of the

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What’s Next for the Affordable Care Act?

While a federal district court ruled the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional on December 14, the Act and the litigation will continue. The judge didn’t issue a nationwide injunction which would have had the effect of immediately ceasing all aspects of law. Unsurprisingly, the states defending the law have stated they will appeal this ruling

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