WOTUS update

In our last update on the status of our challenge to the controversial Army Corps and EPA rule redefining “waters of the United States,” we informed you that the U.S. Supreme Court had granted review to consider the proper venue for the challenge and that the court would hear the case in April and issue a decision by June. However, the court has rescheduled oral argument to sometime in the upcoming October Term. This means we may not see a decision until next year. The court did not say why it rescheduled the case. But, with the appointment of a new Attorney General and pending Solicitor General and Supreme Court Justice, it is no surprise. Other cases have been rescheduled as well. As of today, opening briefs are still due on February 27.

The road goes on forever and PLF’s fight for liberty never ends

This week, Pacific Legal Foundation joined with the Marquette County Road Commission in the upper peninsula of Michigan to appeal the U.S. EPA’s decision to unjustifiably block construction of an important local road project in that region of our country. We join this local government in its effort to fight back against Washington, D.C. overreach.

County Road 595 is a proposed 21-mile route that would allow trucks to bypass busy city streets in Marquette County. As planned and approved by state officials, it would cut air pollution, increase safety, and save over 450,000 gallons of fuel yearly.

Yet EPA regulators have butted in and imposed a roadblock, with a controversial claim that CR 595 would adversely impact wetlands.

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Is endangered species reform in the offing?

For many years, defenders of property rights and limited government have advocated for reform of the Endangered Species Act. Not surprisingly, recent ameliorative efforts have gone nowhere thanks to divided government. But with the Legislative and Executive Branches now controlled by the same party, some amendments to the over forty-year-old law may be plausible. Late last month, efforts commenced with H.R. 717, written by Representative Pete Olson of Texas. The so-called “Listing Reform Act” would make three changes to the process by which species are considered for protection. Continue reading

PLF takes first move in effort to delist the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse

Is this a subspecies? (photo USFWS)

Late last week, PLF gave notice to the pertinent Colorado and Wyoming wildlife agencies of our intent, on behalf of a broad coalition of property rights and sound science advocates, to petition the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse from the Endangered Species Act. The mouse’s tenure on the list of protected wildlife has been contentious, figuring prominently in the larger science and policy debate about taxonomy and wildlife regulation. Our petition will contend that the Preble’s mouse—which the Service listed as a threatened subspecies in 1998—is in fact no different from two other plentiful, non-endangered jumping mouse populations that dwell north of the Canadian border. Continue reading

PLF wins important first step in “union walkaround” lawsuit

Late Friday, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas denied (in part) OSHA’s motion to dismiss our lawsuit challenging the agency’s “union walkaround” rule. Filed back in September, our lawsuit challenges the so-called “Fairfax Memo,” issued by OSHA in 2013. The Fairfax Memo grants union operatives the ability to accompany OSHA inspectors when they undertake worksite inspections, even if the employees are non-unionized. In effect, the Fairfax Memo gives union recruiters a free pass to proselytize to non-union workers under the guise of “contributing positively” to a worksite inspection. PLF represents the National Federation of Independent Business, whose members had been forced to allow union operatives onto their property under the authority granted by the Fairfax memo.

While Friday’s ruling only denied OSHA’s motion to dismiss, the decision effectively holds that OSHA’s walkaround rule is illegal.  I’ll explain why after the jump. Continue reading

Weekly litigation report – February 3, 2017

  • PLF asks Supreme Court to review challenge to California mining ban
  • PLF challenges California gray wolf listing
  • Supreme Court sets oral argument in Murr
  • More Supreme Court arguments set for the March calendar

PLF asks Supreme Court to review challenge to California mining ban

PLF petitioned the nation’s highest court to hear Brandon Rinehart’s challenge to California’s broad suction dredge mining ban. For more than a century, federal law has encouraged mining on federal lands. California is frustrating that federal policy by forbidding miners like Rinehart who have mining claims on federal land from continuing their work. PLF’s petition argues that the state ban is therefore invalid. The California Supreme Court’s decision upholding the ban conflicts with decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, Eighth Circuit, Federal Circuit, and Colorado Supreme Court and threatens to increase conflict over the uses of federal lands. The U.S. Supreme Court should hear the case to resolve that split.

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Supreme Court schedules oral argument in Murr for March 20, 2017

Today, the United States Supreme Court issued its oral argument calendar for March, 2017. Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) is pleased to note that the Court included PLF’s important property rights case, Murr v. State of Wisconsin, on that March calendar. The Court has specifically scheduled the Murr case for argument on March 20, 2017. Continue reading

PLF asks Supreme Court to review challenge to California’s mining ban

Nearly two centuries ago, the Supreme Court recognized that the “unavoidable consequence” of the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause is that States have “no power … to retard, impede, burden, or in any manner control” federal policies that are otherwise consistent with the Constitution. California, unfortunately, has forgotten this important history lesson and needs the Supreme Court to give it a refresher.

PLF has filed a petition asking the Court to review a challenge to California’s broad suction dredge mining ban. Our client, Brandon Rinehart, is a California miner who was criminally prosecuted for engaging in an activity on federal land that federal law encouraged him to do. His conviction under the state mining ban irreconcilably conflicts with federal policy.

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Occupational licensing reform percolating in Florida

Opponents of burdensome occupational licensing laws in Florida may soon have reason to celebrate. Two bills were recently filed in the Florida legislature that would bring some mild, but welcome relief to Floridians seeking to earn a living.

In recent years, the difficulties faced by military spouses to receive license reciprocity when they move to a new state has increasingly been addressed. Briefly, due to the patchwork of occupational licensing requirements from state to state, when people with licenses move to a new state, they often must start the licensing process over or complete additional requirements just to keep working in their chosen profession. Because military spouses tend to move from state to state more often than others, this burden disproportionately impacts them. Continue reading

Judge Neil Gorsuch: superbly well-qualified

 

When President Trump announced that he selected Judge Neil Gorsuch as his nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States, PLF promptly released its statement recognizing that Judge Gorsuch is superbly qualified for appointment to the High Court. We can now dive deeper into his background and jurisprudence to explain why this is so.

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