State Court Docket Watch

  • Brush & Nib Studio v. City of Phoenix

    Docket Watch 2020 By Jonathan Scruggs For the last decade, courts and commentators have penned many pages about anti-discrimination norms and religious liberty. Since the U.S. Supreme Court decided Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission,[1] lower courts have tried to balance these interests and begun to protect creative professionals from anti-discrimination laws that force […]

  • Zarate v. Tennessee of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners

    Docket Watch 2018

    By Braden Boucek

    Why should a barber have to graduate high school? Barbers cut hair. They don’t need to know calculus, or explore themes of alienation in King Lear. So why does Tennessee require barbers have a high school diploma or a GED even before they can attend barber school? And then once in barber school, barbers are still required to get 1,500 of training, and then pass a state exam. Won’t that ensure everything a barber could possibly need to know to ensure public safety? This is the question posed in Tennessee in Zarate v. Tennessee of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners.

  • Herr v. U.S. Forest Service

    Docket Watch 2018

    By Christian Corrigan

    On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in SWC, LLC v. Herr, ending a 25-year battle for property rights in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The case concerned the U.S. Forest Service’s (“USFS”) criminal prohibition on motorboat use on Crooked Lake, where private landowners share the lake with a national wilderness. At issue was whether Congress delegated the full scope of its Property Clause power in Article IV, Section 3 to the USFS when it passed the Michigan Wildness Act (“MWA”).

  • State of Indiana v. Norfolk S. Ry. Co., 2018 Ind. LEXIS 560

    Docket Watch 2018

    By David Patrick Johnson

    The Indiana Supreme Court unanimously held that Indiana’s blocked-crossing statute is expressly preempted by the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act (“ICCTA”). Indiana’s blocked-crossing statute prohibits railroads from blocking highway grade crossings for more than ten (10) minutes. A violation is a Class C infraction and subject to a $200 fine.

  • 1A Auto, Inc. v. Sullivan

    Docket Watch 2018

    By Jacob Huebert

    Massachusetts law bans for-profit corporations and other business entities from contributing to political candidates and committees. And, unlike federal law, it doesn’t even allow businesses to make contributions indirectly through a PAC.

  • Black v. Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority

    Docket Watch 2018

    By Joel Ard

    This lawsuit, now pending appeal to Washington’s intermediate appellate court, seeks to enforce a constitutional limit on legislative power. Article II § 37 of the state constitution requires that “No act shall ever be revised or amended by mere reference to its title, but the act revised or the section amended shall be set forth at full length.” Plaintiffs are challenging a 2015 act that purported to allow a local government (Sound Transit, a regional transportation district) to levy a motor vehicle excise tax (“MVET”). A 2006 statute was already in place that specified how vehicles would be valued. The 2015 act didn’t use the current valuation schedule, but instead directed the use of a repealed 1996 act in lieu of the 2006 statute as the basis for calculating a motor vehicle excise tax. Instead of setting forth “at full length” the 2006 statute and showing how it was being amended, the 2015 act simply said “Notwithstanding any other provision . . . .” Article II § 37 of the state constitution provision has repeatedly been invoked, successfully, by Sound Transit, to invalidate legislation obliging it to reduce taxes. Plaintiffs intend to see it applied to require the same level of strict compliance with the state constitution when legislation raises taxes.

  • Savely v. Utah Highway Patrol

    Docket Watch 2018

    By Adam Pomeroy

    Suppose a police officer takes cash from you saying it is being forfeited but that you can go to the local state courthouse and ask for it back. What would you think when you got to court and the government insisted you had to go to federal court instead? Is it just for government to change the rules halfway through the game? Does it comply with due process?

  • King v. Mississippi Military Department

    Docket Watch 2018

    By Andy Lowry

    In an 8-0 decision on June 7, 2018, the Mississippi Supreme Court announced that it will no longer give any deference to state agencies’ interpretations of their gov¬erning statutes. King v. Miss. Military Dep’t, 245 So. 3d 404 (Miss. 2018). This holding marks a sharp departure from the traditional deference the Mississippi state courts had shown to state agencies, although as the decision correctly states, that deference had been eroding in recent years.

  • Eyman v. Wyman; Ball and Gottlieb v. Wyman

    Docket Watch 2018

    By David K. DeWolf, Joel Ard

    The Washington Supreme Court issued decisions in two cases addressing procedural mandates of the state constitution’s 1906 amendment that reserved to the people the right to legislate by initiative. In Eyman v. Wyman, addressing initiatives to the legislature, all nine justices agreed that the legislature could not adopt and amend an initiative during the same session. In Gottleib v. Wyman, addressing initiatives to the people, the unanimous Court held that neither the Secretary of State nor the courts had any authority to police and enforce the constitutional mandate that the full text of a proposed initiative appear on signature petitions.

  • Lair v. Mangan

    Docket Watch 2018

    By Anthony LoCoco

    Is the Supreme Court of the United States set to expand First Amendment protection for political participation? Possibly. The Court is currently considering whether to grant review in Lair v. Mangan, a case out of the Ninth Circuit. If it does, the Court would have the opportunity to clarify the extent to which states may burden the First Amendment by imposing limits on campaign contributions.

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