- Judge says Emoluments Clause suit based on Trump’s DC hotel can proceed [Andrew M. Harris, Bloomberg, Washington Post; two views at Volokh Conspiracy from David Post and Josh Blackman and Seth Barrett Tillman; earlier on Emoluments Clause litigation] Last year I noted the hotel-competitor fact pattern as the kind of emoluments case most likely to clear the standing hurdle;
- Excessive fines are unconstitutional, whether levied on persons or on groups of persons [Ilya Shapiro and Matthew Larosiere and Dave Kopel on Cato/Independence Institute brief in Colorado Dept. of Labor v. Dami Hospitality]
- Federalist Society conversation with author Joseph Tartakovsky about his new book, The Lives of the Constitution: Ten Exceptional Minds that Shaped America’s Supreme Law;
- “In 2016, Birmingham, Ala. officials imposed $10.10 minimum wage, but the next day state legislators preempted it, enacting a statewide minimum wage of $7.25. Plaintiffs: Which discriminates against blacks, who make up 72 percent of Birmingham and most of its City Council. Eleventh Circuit: ‘Today, racism is no longer pledged from the portico of the capitol or exclaimed from the floor of the constitutional convention; it hides, abashed, cloaked beneath ostensibly neutral laws and legitimate bases, steering government power toward no less invidious ends.’ Plaintiffs’ equal protection claim should not have been dismissed.” [John Kenneth Ross, Short Circuit, on Lewis v. Governor of Alabama]
- “This is the old ‘why do you make him hit you?’ argument applied to civil liberties. It excuses the actions of the abuser—the state in this case—as reactions to the missteps of the abused.” [J.D. Tuccille on curious ACLU argument that maintaining expansive Second Amendment rights just provokes the state into wider crackdowns]
- North Carolina’s constitution has a clause endorsing right to “the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor” which might furnish ground to challenge some economic regulation [Eugene Volokh]
Cato Forum on Jeffrey Rosen’s short new book on William Howard Taft (American Presidents Series) with comments by Judge Douglas Ginsburg and moderated by Cato’s Gene Healy:
Jeffrey Rosen argues that Taft has much to teach us today. Our “most judicial president,” who later served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, shared the Framers’ conception of the presidency as a constitutional rather than a popular office. In his single presidential term and his failed bid for reelection in the pivotal 1912 race, Taft staunchly opposed Teddy Roosevelt’s “stewardship” theory of the office, which empowered the president “to do anything that the needs of the nation demanded unless such action was forbidden by the Constitution or the laws.” The president’s authority, Taft countered, is limited to what the Constitution and the laws specifically grant, and to hold otherwise would lead to an imperial presidency.
In his reluctance to rule by executive order or wage war without Congress — and in his resistance to popular passions — Taft serves both as a model of what a constitutional presidency could be and a reminder of the challenges facing that model in the modern era.
Caleb Brown interviews Trevor Burrus and me for the Cato Daily Podcast on Lucia v. SEC, Thursday’s Supreme Court case on the Appointments Clause and administrative law. Crossing to join with the conservatives, Justice Elena Kagan wrote a narrowly tailored opinion invalidating the method by which the Securities and Exchange Commission had appointed its five administrative law judges at the time of the dispute (it has since fixed its appointment method). The majority opinion carefully sidesteps the issue of how ALJs may properly be removed; Justice Breyer, who largely concurred with the result on separate grounds, explored some of those issues in his opinion. See also Ilya Shapiro on June 21 as “government structure day” at the Supreme Court, and with more on the merits. Related: Federalist Society forum on Michael Rappaport proposal for replacement of ALJs with Article III judges.
A Cato-centric list:
- Supreme Court’s past refusal to enforce plain language of Contracts Clause cries out for review, but in Minnesota life insurance dispute only Gorsuch is up for the task [Roger Pilon, related Cato podcast] More: John McGinnis;
- In Collins v. Virginia, all Justices except Alito agree “that the cops need a warrant to enter your curtilage [area immediately surrounding your home] even if they are doing so to search a vehicle parked there.” [Kevin Underhill, Lowering the Bar, earlier here and here]
- SCOTUS agrees 8-1 that arrest can constitute First Amendment retaliation even if also backed by probable cause, a position urged by Cato in its brief [Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach; Heidi Kitrosser, SCOTUSBlog]
- Audio: I join Yuripzy Morgan on her WBAL radio show to discuss Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, recent case on Ohio’s maintenance of voter rolls;
- Last winter I observed that neither wing of the Court seemed to be angling for a Culture War knockout at the Masterpiece Cakeshop oral argument, and predicted Kennedy might dispose of the case this way [New York Daily News flashback, more on cert grant and on Court’s decision, Cato Tumblr links on the case]
- Through pretextual police stops, government stealthily revives that hated institution of colonial days, the general warrant [Jay Schweikert on Cato cert amicus in Johnson v. U.S.]
What one observer sees as a logjam or political gridlock, of course, can look to another like the welcome avoidance of bad legislation. But that’s not the only reason the courts are reluctant to assume one or another new power on the logic that the political branches have wrongfully failed to act in some area. In a new Cato at Liberty post, I cite a notable passage addressing this point in Monday’s Gill v. Whitford decision on redistricting.
On the Supreme Court’s modern development of doctrine favorable to private arbitration, George Mason lawprof Michael Greve is as usual stimulating and surprising [Law and Liberty] And NYU lawprof Sam Estreicher writes that “class action lawsuits are the wrong way to settle employment disputes….Epic Systems may well prove beneficial to workers, a qualified blessing in disguise.” [Bloomberg via Jonathan Adler] More: Christopher Murray, Federalist Society “Courthouse Steps” podcast.
- “Allegation: Maplewood, Mo. officials trap low-income motorists in a repeated cycle of arrests and jailing over traffic violations by requiring them to pay fines and bonds irrespective of their ability to pay. A Fourteenth Amendment violation? The district court did not err, says the Eighth Circuit, in allowing the case to proceed.” [John Kenneth Ross, IJ “Short Circuit” on Webb v. City of Maplewood]
- “Does the Excessive Fines Clause Apply to the States? You’d think we’d know that by now — but the Supreme Court hasn’t spoken to this.” [Eugene Volokh]
- “SCOTUS Bingo: The Slaughterhouse Cases” [Sheldon Gilbert on Heritage “SCOTUS 101” podcast with Elizabeth Slattery and Tiffany Bates; Eighth Circuit occupational licensure case]
- Should committing a crime unrelated to guns or violence lead to lifetime forfeiture of gun rights? [Ilya Shapiro and Matt Larosiere on Cato amicus brief in Kanter v. Sessions, Seventh Circuit]
- “A Debt Against the Living: An Introduction to Originalism,” Federalist Society podcast with Michael McConnell and Ilan Wurman discussing Wurman’s new book]
- A new and better Article V? [proposal for an “amendment amendment“]
- After oral argument, case challenging agencies’ use of in-house administrative law judges (Lucia v. SEC) remains hard to predict [Ilya Shapiro, Cato; earlier]
- In dissent from cert denial: “Justices Thomas and Gorsuch Argue for Rejecting Deference to Agency Interpretation of Agency Regulations” [Eugene Volokh, Ilya Shapiro and Matthew Larosiere on Garco Construction, Inc. v. Speer]
- High court still gun shy [Trevor Burrus and Matthew Larosiere on refusal to review Maryland felon gun possession ban] Ninth Circuit ruling on zoning exclusion of firearms business deserves cert review [Shapiro and Larosiere on Teixeira v. Alameda County] Court denies cert in widely watched Defense Distributed First Amendment case on dissemination of plans for 3-D printed weapon [Smith Pachter, earlier] A historical look: “The American Indian foundation of American gun culture” [David Kopel]
- “The Supreme Court’s grant of a Contracts Clause case for the first time in a quarter-century reminds me that a certain John G. Roberts wrote a student note on the Clause back in 1978 (available at 92 Harv. L. Rev. 86).” [Aditya Bamzai on Twitter]
- University of Chicago Law Review special issue on Justice Scalia [Will Baude; other recent Scalia scholarship includes articles on his influence in implied rights of action and standing]
- Case on cert petition before SCOTUS could clarify law on distribution of property after church schisms [Samuel Bray on Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina v. Episcopal Church]
“For over 60 years, the executive branch has, through regulatory fiat, imposed a ‘border zone’ that extends as much as 100 miles into the United States.” Within this zone, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) service can set up fixed or mobile checkpoints that require travelers, whether foreign- or native-born, to stop and submit to questioning and possible search “to get to work, go to the store, or make it to a vacation destination in the American Southwest.” Were the government to try using these same techniques at frankly internal checkpoints — in Omaha, say, or Indianapolis or Cheyenne — a range of constitutional protections would come into play to limit police discretion and protect citizens’ rights to go about their business freely. But the border, or areas within 100 miles of it, are different. One problem: since the coasts count as borders too, an estimated two-thirds of the American public lives in areas that are just one executive decision away from having a checkpoint system.
The Cato Institute is launching a new online initiative, “Checkpoint America: Monitoring the Constitution-Free Zone.” Patrick G. Eddington explains in the Cato Daily Podcast above, and in this blog post.
In the case of a federal law providing for the mandatory deportation of lawful permanent residents convicted of a hazily defined “crime of violence,” Justice Neil Gorsuch steps comfortably into Nino Scalia’s shoes as the Court’s champion of void-for-vagueness invalidation of criminal laws whose contours were left overly unclear. “It doesn’t make him a squish. It makes him an originalist,” [Ilya Shapiro, Washington Examiner; opinion in Sessions v. Dimaya] More: Jay Schweikert, Cato.