The Common Core blues: one size education doesn’t fit all

Below is a collaboration between singer/songwriter Scott Simpson and South Dakota high school teachers, aptly titled,  “The Common Core blues.”  This lament may become the anthem for teachers across America, as states continue to accept the bribes inducements the federal government is offering in exchange for adopting Common Core.

h/t Heartland Institute

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Déjà vu: another court disregards precedent and property rights

More than 10 years ago, PLF won an important property rights victory in the U.S. Supreme Court — Palazzolo v. Rhode Island. That case held that government cannot “put an expiration date on the Takings Clause” by forbidding any property owner from challenging the constitutionality of any regulation that existed at the time they purchased it even if the regulation severely restricted their use of the property and its value.

The lower courts have declined to faithfully implement this ruling because the standard for determining whether a regulatory taking has occurred includes consideration of the property owners “investment-backed expectations.” They continue to presume that a property owner could not expect, when she purchases property, that she will enjoy the protections of the Constitution against preexisting regulations.

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AED lawsuit threatens youth sports with liability overload

Later this year, the Florida Supreme Court will consider a lawsuit that seeksaed_sign-web to expand liability against public schools – and others – for failure to use an automatic external defibrillator (AED) in treating an emergency. PLF will file an amicus brief in the case, and last week the Tampa Tribune published our op-ed on the case. The piece begins: Continue reading

President’s weekly report — April 18, 2014

Property Rights — California Coastal Commission

We filed our brief in Lynch v. California Coastal Commission.  Here, the Commission is 1) refusing to allow a pair of homeowners to repair some storm-damaged beach stairs unless the stairs are dedicated for public use and, 2) refusing to allow for the construction of a new seawall (to replace one that was destroyed in a storm) unless the homeowners agree that the seawall will have only a 20-year term, after which it must go through a new permitting process (with, no doubt, the attendant mitigation measures.)  The trial court tossed out these conditions and the Commission has appealed.  For more, see our blog here.

The Court of Appeal granted our motion for a rehearing in SDS Family Trust v. California Commission. That’s the case where the Coastal Commission is demanding a public trail easement in exchange for a permit to repair a home and rebuild a barn that had fallen down.

Property Rights — Spot Zoning

We filed this amicus brief in Griepenburg v. Township of Ocean before the New Jersey Supreme Court.  Here Ocean Township decided to downzone the Griepenburg’s 29 acres to one home per 20 acres.  The property is bounded by the New Jersey Parkway on one side and by developed subdivisions on the remaining sides. The appellate court found that there was no good reason for the downzoning and tossed it out.  The case is now on appeal. Continue reading

Stossel Show featuring PLF client John Duarte to re-air Saturday, April 19, 7 p.m. Pacific on Fox News Channel

Last night I appeared with client John Duarte on the Stossel Show with John Stossel, discussing our case against the Corps of Engineers for violating Duarte Nursery‘s due process rights.  The show will re-air tomorrow night, April 19, at 10 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Pacific, on the Fox News Channel.

PLF files amicus brief asking Supreme Court to hear Low Carbon Fuel Standard case

Yesterday Pacific Legal Foundation filed an amicus brief asking the United States Supreme Court to review a Ninth Circuit decision which upholds a California fuel import restriction against a commerce clause challenge brought by several fuel producers and consumer groups.  We are pleased to be joined on the brief by our friends at Cato Institute, National Federation of Independent Business Legal Center, Reason Foundation, the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, and the Energy and Environment Legal Institute, all urging the Court to review this very important case.

There is a lot of debate about greenhouse gas emissions, primarily carbon dioxide from power plants, manufacturing, and transportation, and whether and how these relate to changes in the long term climate.  California’s government has decided to reduce local greenhouse emissions under a state law known as AB 32. The state has an emissions cap and trade program in place, which rations fuel for most uses, and has forced significant increases in vehicle mileage standards as well.

One of the other rules that the California Air Resources Board has imposed, however, goes beyond the Golden State, and tries to regulate emissions sources all over the world. The Low Carbon Fuel Standard says you can’t import fuel into California unless you reduce the greenhouse emissions from making that fuel in Indiana, or Canada, or Brazil, or wherever it was produced.

You might wonder how one state can regulate the fuel production supply chain in other states and around the globe. And the answer is that under our Constitution, it cannot.  Our Framers designed a federal system, in which each of the states attends to matters within its own borders, and does not have power to regulate in other states. This is to prevent states from engaging in protectionist trade conflicts with each other, a problem that was a very real backdrop to the ratification of our Constitution.

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PLF files response brief in Coastal Commission case

On Friday, we filed our Respondents Brief in the California Court of Appeal (4th District) in Lynch v. California Coastal Commission.

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PLF asks US Supreme Court to hear broadcasters out

For years, FCC has prohibited public broadcasters from showing paid advertisements by for-profit entities or political candidates.  So when Minority TV—a non-profit channel out of San Francisco—aired advertisements for Korean Air, Gingko Biloba Tea, and the like, FCC scrambled to silence them (and fine them $10,000.)  Minority TV sought refuge under the First Amendment, but the Ninth Circuit upheld the advertising bans after applying intermediate scrutiny.  Minority TV is now asking the United States Supreme Court to take up this case and subject the infringements on speech to strict scrutiny.

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Media coverage on yesterday’s smelt decision

As noted yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Bureau of Reclamation must consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service when it chooses to renew various contracts for water from the Central Valley Project.  Media articles quote one water-user lawyer describing the decision as merely “procedural,” and another water-user attorney as “destabilizing.”

I would say that they’re both right.  The ruling is procedural in the sense that the Bureau technically just has to consult but doesn’t necessarily have to reduce water deliveries to these contractors, but the ruling is also destabilizing because it’s certainly possible (perhaps even likely) that water deliveries will be affected, even though these particular contracts had been thought largely immune from Delta smelt regulation.

George Will column features PLF author’s book

George Will’s latest column focuses on my new book:

The fundamental division in American politics is between those who take their bearings from the individual’s right to a capacious, indeed indefinite, realm of freedom, and those whose fundamental value is the right of the majority to have its way in making rules about which specified liberties shall be respected.

Now, the nation no longer lacks what it has long needed, a slender book that lucidly explains the intensity of conservatism’s disagreements with progressivism. For the many Americans who are puzzled and dismayed by the heatedness of political argument today, the message of Timothy Sandefur’s The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty is this: The temperature of today’s politics is commensurate to the stakes of today’s argument.

You can read the rest here…