The federal government doesn’t make mistakes

In essence, that’s what a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit held in a recent decision regarding critical habitat designation under the Endangered Species Act. The National Marine Fisheries Service designated virtually the entire West Coast of the United States as … Continue reading

Seattle privacy lawsuit: Irony, delicious as pie

The City of Seattle is lost in the deep dark forest of its progressive ideals—and yet it just can’t seem to see the forest for the tress. As you may recall, PLF attorneys filed a lawsuit last week arguing that … Continue reading

PLF attorneys discuss the California Raisin case in new article

Earlier this week, PLF attorneys Brian Hodges and Christopher Kieser published a professional commentary in Jurist, discussing the Supreme Court’s decision in the raisin case, Horne v. Department of Agriculture. In it, they argue that Horne provides more evidence that the … Continue reading

A modest proposal

What if we, the people, were to ask federal administrative agencies to respond in a timely manner to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?  The current denizens of the federal government tell us they will respond only if and when sued.  Otherwise, we, the people, can pound salt.

That’s what happened in our challenge to the National Forest Service’s decision to padlock Plumas National Forest, Granat v. USDA.  Our clients asked for background information regarding the Forest Service’s action closing thousands of roads and trails to motorized travel, making Plumas National Forest accessible only to the most able-bodied among us.  The lawsuit addresses a number of important legal violations by the government, including the Forest Service’s failure to respond to FOIA requests.

As soon as we filed the Complaint, the Forest Service provided the information that it had withheld for almost five years.  At the same time, the Forest Service filed a Motion to Dismiss the FOIA claims, on the ground that, because the information was provided after we sued, the FOIA claims were “moot,” and the court could not provide any relief.

Not so fast.  We filed an opposition to the motion, arguing that Forest Service employees must respond to FOIA requests in a timely manner and not wait until they are sued to comply with the law.  What’s the point of having a law that guarantees citizens the right to information regarding how their government operates if government employees can violate it with impunity, as long as they comply after being sued?  The most charitable view is that the government is encouraging litigation. A less charitable view is that the arrogance of federal employees is eviscerating the FOIA.

Our modest proposal is this.  The federal government should comply with the FOIA in a timely manner, before it is sued. The current Administration, which promised to be the most transparent, has turned out to be among the least transparent, thereby turning the FOIA on its head.

L.A. Daily Journal runs PLF Op-Ed on the Horne Decision

Today, the L.A. Daily Journal ran an op-ed written by PLF attorneys Brian T. Hodges and Christopher Kieser on the Supreme Court’s takings decision in the raisin case, Horne v. Department of Agriculture. The article can be read here. … Continue reading

It’s good to have friends

Many friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed supporting People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners‘ challenge to the federal government’s unconstitutional Utah prairie dog regulation. These briefs are a reminder of how important the issue is and how unnecessary the … Continue reading

Is the Constitution a paradox?

In defending the constitutionality of the Utah prairie dog regulation, the government makes a paradoxical claim. Conceding that federal intrusions into areas of traditional state authority are unconstitutional, the government nonetheless argues that the Necessary and Proper Clause allows the … Continue reading

California can’t arbitrarily ban mining

The California Supreme Court is considering an important case concerning whether a state can frustrate federal law and deprive people of their livelihoods for no good reason. PLF filed this amicus brief in the case, joined by the Western Mining … Continue reading

Fighting to protect San Juan property owners from land grab

On June 2, 2015, Division I of the Washington State Court of Appeals is set to hear oral argument in the first state case seeking to limit government’s ability to coerce property from land use applicants since PLF’s landmark victory … Continue reading