At oral argument yesterday in Babb v. Wilkie, a case on the standard needed to prove age discrimination in federal employment, Chief Justice John Roberts offered a hypothetical of a younger manager who says “OK boomer” to a job applicant. [Mark Sherman, AP] In November, we and others discussed the legal pressure on employers to keep employees from using that phrase. More: William Baldwin, Forbes.
An opinion by the Fourth Circuit sees a big difference between legal representation of unions or complainants — idealistic, pro-rights, good in short — versus legal representation of businesses. Is that so? And should the role of the First Amendment apply equally across the two cases? I explore the case of Capital Associated Industries Inc. v. Stein, from North Carolina, in a new post at Cato at Liberty.
- Hosanna-Tabor sequel: Court agrees to review Ninth Circuit decisions taking narrow view of “ministerial exception,” which restricts court review of some decisions by religious employers [SCOTUSBlog, Eric Rassbach; Joseph Cosby on Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel]
- Once again the Court is being asked to green-light open-ended claims of disparate impact liability in mortgage lending. Proximate cause principles offer a way to hold the line [Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus, and Sam Spiegelman on Cato amicus in Bank of America v. Miami]
- Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution provides that the Chief Justice shall preside over an impeachment trial of the President in the Senate. Should it wish, however, the Senate will have wide latitude to overrule Roberts’s rulings [John Kruzel, The Hill]
- Regulatory agencies whose officials are unremovable amount to an unaccountable fourth (or fifth?) branch of government [Ilya Shapiro and James Knight on Cato amicus brief in Seila Law v. CFPB]
- Comcast Corp. v. National Association of African American-Owned Media, argued before the Court Nov. 13, originally appeared to hinge on the Ninth Circuit’s adopting a looser standard for allegations of race discrimination in contracting than did other circuits; as it has evolved, however, it may be decided on questions of pleading [Washington Legal Foundation and more from WLF’s Richard Samp, ABA Journal; Dominic Patten and Mike Fleming Jr., Deadline on underlying dispute; Howard Wasserman and followup]
- Nearly two years after joining the Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch now has a track record [Jacob Sullum, Michael Greve] Gorsuch may be joining Thomas in the position that a federal agency’s considered decision *not* to regulate should not be interpreted to pre-empt state regulatory power [James Beck on concurrence in Lipschultz v. Charter Advanced Services (MN), LLC]
Did Hugo Black’s appointment to the Supreme Court in 1937 pass constitutional muster? The answer may hold a lesson for some who question the legitimacy of the present Supreme Court, I argue in my new Cato post. Despite hyperventilation over particular nominations, history shows the Court is resilient.
- Everyday orders share same griddle, but alternate cooking method is offered for vegans: “Lawsuit claims Burger King’s Impossible Whoppers are contaminated by meat” [Jonathan Stempel and Richa Naidu, Reuters]
- Court orders Canadian Senate to pay $1,500 to man who complained of language rights violation from English-only push labels on Parliament Hill drinking fountains [Jackie Dunham, CTV]
- Guns N’ Mootness: Supreme Court hears challenge to New York’s Kafkaesque have-gun-can’t-travel law, since repealed [Clark Neily, Daniel Horwitz, Josh Blackman, Newsy video with Ilya Shapiro, earlier and David Kopel/Randy Barnett in SCOTUSBlog symposium; Cato brief, oral argument transcript]
- Some deserved national attention for the killing of Gary Willis last year by Anne Arundel County, Md. police enforcing a “red flag” gun order [Jacob Sullum, earlier]
- Profile of Ken White is first time I recall seeing explanation of Popehat as blog name [Zane Hill, Outlook Newspapers]
- “When the opposition is paying [an expert’s fee in litigation], no incentive at all exists to charge anything but top dollar. That’s where the courts come in.” [Jim Beck]
I joined the Lars Larson Show on Tuesday to talk about the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing a suit against Remington over the Sandy Hook massacre to proceed for now [earlier]. The current suit, as green-lighted by the Connecticut Supreme Court earlier this year over a dissent from three of its seven justices, claims that Remington violated the broad provisions on deceptive marketing of a state consumer protection law, the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). It should be emphasized that the case is still at an early stage and that the Justices will probably be presented with further opportunities to pronounce on its compatibility with the federal law that pre-empts most gun suits, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).
I’ve got a new post up at Cato at Liberty taking a more extended look at the ruling and what lies ahead for gunmaker litigation.
A Cato-centric selection:
- Massachusetts bans the most popular variety of self-defense firearms and that violates the Second Amendment, as SCOTUS should make clear [Ilya Shapiro and James T. Knight II on Cato Institute amicus brief in Worman v. Healey] Congress has never passed a law criminalizing the accessories known as bump stocks and the Executive branch can’t change that on its own [Trevor Burrus and James Knight, Guedes v. BATF]
- Three more Cato certiorari amicus briefs: With return of Little Sisters case, Court should make clear that scope of accommodation under Religious Freedom Restoration Act is not for executive agencies to expand and contract accordion-like [Ilya Shapiro and Sam Spiegelman] Berkeley, Calif.’s ordinance requiring disclosure of the purported risks of cell phone radio frequency (RF) exposure poses First Amendment questions of forced commercial speech [Ilya Shapiro and Michael Collins on return to SCOTUS of CTIA v. Berkeley] Supreme Court has rejected attempt to use Alien Tort Statute to assert universal jurisdiction over human-rights abuses in overseas business, but Ninth Circuit still hasn’t gotten the message [Ilya Shapiro and Dennis Garcia, Nestle v. Doe]
- Summing up the last Court term: speech by Miguel Estrada and a short video with Ilya Shapiro for the Federalist Society;
- “Fearful that the Supreme Court will reject a broad interpretation of the CWA’s [Clean Water Act’s] scope, environmentalist groups have been seeking to settle the Maui case before the Court rules.” [Jonathan Adler on Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund]
- Another case of surprise plain meaning? Advocates argue that Congress didn’t really end Indian reservation status for much of the state of Oklahoma even if everyone at the time thought it did [Will Baude on Sharp v. Murphy; earlier on surprise plain meaning]
- “An Introduction to Constitutional Law: 100 Supreme Court Cases Everyone Should Know” [new book by Randy Barnett and Josh Blackman; described here, and discussed in this Cato video]
The full Cato Supreme Court Review for the 2018-19 term can be read here, with an introduction by Trevor Burrus. Among this year’s highlights: Michael McConnell on the Maryland Peace Cross case and government-sponsored religious symbols, Bruce Kobayashi and Joshua Wright on the Apple indirect-purchaser antitrust case, Braden Boucek on the Tennessee liquor Commerce Clause case, and Simon Lecturer George Will on “The Insufficiently Dangerous Branch.”
Or listen to a Cato audio with Trevor Burrus, Ilya Shapiro, and Caleb Brown:
Janice Smyth’s family had paid property taxes for 40 years on a residential-zoned land parcel on Cape Cod, which has been left as the last plot in its neighborhood not residentially developed. But the town of Falmouth has adopted land-use regulations that have left only a 115-square-foot patch of it developable. Massachusetts courts: even if the plot’s valuation fell from $700,000 to $60,000, a decline of more than 90 percent, it’s not a taking since you could still use the land as a park or to walk dogs or for neighbors to buy as a buffer. The dispute might make a suitable vehicle for the Supreme Court to revisit the question of whether an outright confiscation of all uses is required before the Constitution’s requirement of just compensation kicks in [Trevor Burrus on Cato certiorari amicus brief in case of Smyth v. Conservation Commission of Falmouth et al.]
The video of Cato’s 18th Constitution Day forum, held September 17, is now online, with a line-up of eminent speakers including Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSBlog, Jan Crawford of CBS News, and Judge Thomas Hardiman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, who in the annual B. Kenneth Simon Lecture discussed judicial independence and service during good behavior. I moderate the third panel, on Property Rights, Antitrust, and the Census.