Fox News’ Gregg Jarrett has this article on California’s smelt-exacerbated drought, and notes PLF’s pending cert petition requesting the Supreme Court to rule that the smelt-inspired water cutbacks of the last several years are illegal.
Today, the California Supreme Court granted PLF’s petition for review in Lynch v. California Coastal Commission. The supreme court’s grant means that the court of appeal’s decision in favor of the Commission is vacated, and the case will be set for a new round of briefing and argument next year. Here’s PLF’s press release:
When Luke Skywalker crash-landed on Yoda’s swampy planet, Luke turned to R2D2 and said, “If you’re saying that coming here was a bad idea, I’m starting to agree with you.” George Lucas may be starting to feel the same regret about the location of his proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. Continue reading
The U.S. EPA and Army Corps of Engineers are attempting an unprecedented — and unconstitutional — power grab to extend the Clean Water Act (CWA) to cover “virtually any wet … spot in the country, including ditches, drains, seasonal puddle-like depressions, intermittent streams, ponds, impoundments, prairie potholes, and large ‘buffer areas’ of land adjacent to every waterway.”
So argues our op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal. It is based on the comments Reed Hopper submitted to the agencies opposing the illegal draft rule. Reed and I explain that the proposed definition of the “waters of the United States” is so vague and potentially all-encompassing that it could lead to an almost unlimited expansion of federal control over property nationwide — going far beyond the limits laid down by the Supreme Court of the United States in two recent decisions. Continue reading
Property Rights — The Public Trust Doctrine like The Blob?
PLF attorneys filed an amicus brief with the Oregon Court of Appeals in Kramer v. City of Lake Oswego—a case in which two public access activists argue that the “public trust doctrine” should be extended to create easements across dry, upland property so that the public can gain access “to . . . navigable waters throughout the State or Oregon, including the Lake, . . . regardless of ownership.” As our blog explains, this has no basis in the law. Instead it is a clumsy attempt to subvert the common law in order to allow public trespass across private property.
We received word this week that the California Coastal Commission has scheduled a hearing next Friday, December 12, to hear our rule rescission petition. That petition, filed on behalf of the Beach & Bluff Conservancy, contends that the Commission’s after-the-fact permit regulation is illegally punitive and should be rescinded. Be sure to check out the live tweeting from @TheCoastWatch for hearing updates.
Fox Business Network’s John Stossel devotes his program tonight (at 9pm Eastern) to the “Control Freaks” in government. I join Stossel to discuss PLF’s recent victory in the prairie dog case, on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners, one of whom joins me. Regular readers will recall that federal bureaucrats acted very much like control freaks when they asserted the authority to control everything — including building homes, starting businesses, and protecting sports fields, airport runways, and a cemetery from a barking, tunneling rodent — in a small region of Utah to protect the Utah prairie dog. I’ll have some further thoughts here on the PLF Liberty Blog after the show airs.
This morning, we joined forces with over two dozen members of Congress to file a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case challenging the constitutionality of the Independent Payment Advisory Board provision of Obamacare. IPAB is the group of “Platonic Guardians” that are empowered to regulate Medicare spending–a board of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats whose “recommendations” automatically become law without any checks or balances by the President, Congress, or the courts. Amazingly, the law even tries to make the IPAB immune from repeal! That’s one reason George Will recently referred to IPAB as “the most anti-constitutional measure ever enacted.”
PLF’s Todd Gaziano speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill about PLF’s amicus brief
Readers of the Liberty Blog will recall that we filed briefs in the trial court and the Ninth Circuit supporting our friends at the Goldwater Institute, who are litigating this case. Those courts ruled that the challenge to IPAB had been brought too early, but as we point out in our Supreme Court brief, the Obamacare statute actually makes IPAB immune from judicial review, so if the Court doesn’t hear this case now, it’s unlikely it’ll hear the case in the future.
As Senator Tom Coburn and Congressman Phil Roe explain in the Wall Street Journal this morning, IPAB is a shocking violation of the basic constitutional principles of separation of powers and government accountability. The law attempts to give this group of experts (or, in this case, a single bureaucrat: the Secretary of Health and Human Services) the power to take whatever steps they consider to be “related to the Medicare program,” so as to reduce costs. Although IPAB supposedly is barred from “rationing care,” the law does not define what that term means, and because IPAB is immune from judicial, legislative, or executive power, there would be no recourse if IPAB did ration care. Write Coburn and Roe,
The Supreme Court should nonetheless accept review in Coons v. Lew. The plaintiffs challenge the existence of an agency whose actions are uncontrollable and unreviewable. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said it will not hear this case until IPAB takes action. But the unconstitutional provisions of the law, including those claiming to tie the hands of Congress, are already operating. Because the law frees IPAB of any checks and balances, waiting could be dangerous. The Supreme Court should hold that the time to answer these constitutional questions is now, not later.
Our brief is signed not only by Congressman Roe and Sen. Coburn, but by Representatives Dan Benishek, Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn, Paul Broun, Mike Coffman, John Fleming, Trent Franks, Phil Gingrey, Paul Gosar, H. Morgan Griffith, Tim Huelskamp, Thomas Massie, Tom McClintock, Alan Nunnelee, Pete Olson, Bill Posey, Tom Price, Todd Rokita, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert, Lee Terry, Rob Woodall, and Ted Yoho.
On October 2, 2014, the United States Supreme Court granted review in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. When it did, the Court made it clear that it only wants to resolve one issue: Whether disparate impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act. This week PLF attorneys filed a brief in the Court explaining that the answer to that question should be a resounding “no.” Many distinguished organizations joined PLF in its brief: The Center for Equal Opportunity, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, Individual Rights Foundation, Reason Foundation, Project 21, and Atlantic Legal Foundation.