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.
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.
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 Oceanbefore 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 →
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.
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.
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.
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.