President’s weekly report — December 21, 2012

We had a number of decisions come down this week, presumably part of the rush to get these in before the end of world later today.

Individual Rights — First Amendment

On Thursday, a the Ninth Circuit overturned a federal district court ruling and upheld the City of San Diego’s low-cost leases (including at Balboa Park) to the Boy Scouts of America.  In Barnes-Wallace v. City of  San Diego.  The Court rejected claims that, because of Boy Scout policies on religion, the leases violate the First Amendment ban on establishment of religion.  The court noted — in accord with the amicus brief from Pacific Legal Foundation and the Veterans of Foreign Wars — that the city leases property, mostly at little or no cost, to more than 120 nonprofits in all, both secular and religious.  So a reasonable observer could not see an endorsement of religion when the Scouts’ lease is viewed in that broad context.

 

Environmental Review — California Environmental Quality Act

We filed an amicus brief in Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance v. Superior Court (Wal-Mart Stores) in support of a petition for review at the California Supreme Court.  Under California law, when the voters pass an initiative allowing for a particular land use, there is no requirement to file an Environmental Impact Report.  Also under California law, if enough voters sign petitions to put a land use approval on the ballot, a city may save time and money by adopting theproposed initiative as an ordinance.  That too should be exempt from the EIR requirement.  But a court of appeal panel held otherwise and will not permit Wal-Mart to proceed with a new store despite a voter initiative that received enough signatures to prompt the City to adopt a land use change for Wal-Mart.

Free Enterprise Project — Equal Opportunity Under the Law

We had previously filed an amicus brief in Blessing v. Sirius XM Radio objecting to an order requiring “diversity” in class counsel in this class action case.  This week, the Second Circuit ruled that plaintiffs who objected to a class certification did not suffer any injury from the lower court’s diversity order, and therefore lacked standing.

Environment — Endangered Species

In Bonner County. v. Salazar,  we received a positive initial finding on our delisting petition for the Selkirk caribou. The official announcement was published in the Fed Reg on Wednesday.

Free Enterprise Project — Tort Reform

Should a person injured by exposure to asbestos be able to sue a manufacturer of products containing asbestos even if he cannot prove that he ever inhaled asbestos fibers from those products? Pacific Legal Foundation doesn’t think so. That’s why this week we filed this brief in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Howard v. A.W. Chesterton. Inc.