Friday, December 9, 2011

Constitutional Challenge to Hawai'i Marriage Law in Federal Court

776px-Bathymetry_image_of_the_Hawaiian_archipelagoThe second wave of challenges to marriage laws excluding same-sex couples began in Hawai'i. The Baehr v. Lewin decision from the Hawai'i Supreme Court in 1993 that the opposite-sex policy was a sex classification subject to strict scrutiny under the state constitution set off a chain of events. In Hawai'i, there was a successful state referendum in Hawai'i retaining the power for the legislature to decide the sex of parties to a marriage.  Nationally, there was ultimately the federal statute DOMA (now in federal disfavor) as well as many other state DOMAs.  However, there were also developments in other states that resulted in the opposite-sex requirement being relaxed. 

The complaint in Jackson v. Abercrombie filed in the federal district of Hawai'i this week challenges the Hawai'i opposite-sex marriage requirement as violating the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.   The 27 page complaint includes an excellent chronology: a summary of the Hawai'i litigation and subsequent cases, including Perry v. Brown now before the Ninth Circuit.  The complaint also alleges that same-sex marriage has gained in popular acceptance since Baehr v. Lewin and that the civil union law, effective in Hawai'i in 2012, is not an adequate substitute for marriage.

Most likely, a district judge would wait for the Ninth Circuit decision in Perry, but presumably the state of Hawai'i will respond.

[image: Hawai'i via]


December 9, 2011 in Due Process (Substantive), Equal Protection, Fourteenth Amendment, Gender, Sexual Orientation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Eighth Circuit En Banc to Hear Funeral Protest Ordinance

The Eighth Circuit has granted the petition for rehearing en banc by the City of Manchester, Missouri regarding the constitutionality of its funeral protest ordinance. 

Title Screen shot 2011-12-08 at 9.19.15 AM

The court's order vacates the panel's opinion which, as we previously noted, is exceedingly problematical.  The panel opinion created a circuit split, holding unconstitutional an ordinance almost identical to one that the Sixth Circuit found constitutional.

The City of Manchester's petition argues that a circuit split itself has constitutional dimensions:

The panel’s opinion, if it is allowed to stand, means that citizens living within the confines of the Sixth Circuit will be governed by a substantive rule of law on a crucial issue that is diametrically opposed to the substantive rule of law governing the citizens living in this Circuit with respect to that same crucial issue. Sufferance of this situation is anathema in a country where all citizens are guaranteed equal protection of the laws. A direct, unresolved circuit split on an issue of considerable national interest does not merely present an academic question, it actively breeds confusion about the law among the public and raises questions concerning the role of the courts in our society.

Yet as we noted, even apart from the circuit split, the Eighth Circuit's per curiam opinion was quite   cursory: the First Amendment analysis is two paragraphs.  The first paragraph disagrees with the district court that the ordinance was a content based regulation.  As for the second paragraph, it concludes that the district court was required to follow Eighth Circuit precedent in another  funeral protest case, Phelps-Roper v. Nixon, this one involving the Missouri statute.

The City of Manchester argues that "The errors of the trial court and the panel here stem from their dependence on Nixon and in turn on that panel’s mistaken reliance" on a previous Eighth Circuit opinion that in turn relied upon Frisby v. Schultz, 487 U.S. 474 (1988).  In short, the City of Manchester argues that the panel judges failed to update their precedent, an argument that is supported by one of the concurring judges in the panel who "respectfully" suggested that the United States Supreme Court opinion in Snyder v. Phelps "provides the proper method of analysis for deciding whether the Manchester ordinance is constitutional."

Oral argument is set for January 9, 2012 in St. Louis.



December 8, 2011 in Equal Protection, First Amendment, Speech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Federal Cigarette Tax Likely Violates Due Process, but not Tenth Amendment

Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth (D.D.C.) ruled on Monday in Gordon v. Holder that the tax requirement in the federal Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act, or PACT, likely violates due process, but not the Tenth Amendment.  Judge Lamberth also ruled that the PACT's ban on mailing cigarettes through the U.S. mail does not violate equal protection or due process.

Plaintiff Gordon owns and runs a cigarette retail business.  He previously took orders by mail and through the internet; since 2010, he takes only phone orders and walk-ins.  He challenged two provisions of the PACT: its ban on mailing cigarettes through the U.S. mail; and its requirement that remote cigarette sellers pay applicable state and local sales taxes in advance. 

Judge Lamberth ruled that Gordon's claim that the tax provision violates due process is likely to succeed.  Judge Lamberth concluded that Gordon didn't have sufficient contacts with some states where he sold cigarettes to satisfy the "minimum connection" test in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota (and borrowed from International Shoe Co. v. Washington).  Without the minimum connection, the tax provision likely violates due process.

But Judge Lamberth rejected Gordon's other claims.  Judge Lamberth wrote that the PACT's ban on sales of cigarettes through the U.S. mail satisifed rational basis review, and that the PACT's tax provision didn't commandeer states or their officers.  (Nothing in PACT compels states to adopt or to change their taxes.  Instead, the PACT simply compels cigarette retailers to comply with applicable state taxes.)

Judge Lamberth thus issued a preliminary injunction against the tax provision on due process grounds, but denied a preliminary injunction on Gordon's other claims.


December 7, 2011 in Cases and Case Materials, Congressional Authority, Due Process (Substantive), Equal Protection, Federalism, Fifth Amendment, Tenth Amendment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Televising the Supreme Court

The Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts will hold a hearing on Tuesday, December 6, at 10:00 a.m., titled Access to the Court: Televising the Supreme Court.  The hearing will be webcast

Witnesses include the following:

  • Former Senator Arlen Specter
  • Tom Goldstein (Goldstein & Russell, and SCOTUSblog)
  • The Honorable Mark Cady (Chief Justice, Iowa Supreme Court)
  • The Honorable Anthony Scirica (Chief Judge, Third Circuit)
  • Maureen Mahoney (Of Counsel, Latham & Watkins)


December 4, 2011 in Congressional Authority, Courts and Judging, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

California Budget Cuts to Home Services May Violate Due Process

Christiaan_BaileyUS District Judge for the Northern District of California, Claudia Wilken, has issued a brief opinion supporting a TRO against California's SB73, reducing most In Home Support Services (IHSS).

Judge Wilken wrote that the proposed notices regarding the reductions "raise serious questions of violations of the federal Due Process Clause," as well as violations of several federal statutory schemes by " by placing IHSS recipients at imminent risk of unnecessary and unwanted out-of-home placement, including in institutions such as nursing homes, board and care facilities, and psychiatric hospitals; by discriminating on the basis of type of disability; and by using methods of administration that will exclude individuals with disabilities from IHSS."

Judge Wilken concluded that the "balance of equities strongly favors Plaintiffs because Defendants’ only interest is fiscal, whereas the plaintiff class faces life or death consequences."   She set a briefing schedule, with a hearing most likely to be held on December 15.

An excellent discussion contextualizing the TRO by Marty Omoto of the California Disability Community Action Network is available here.

[image: Disabled professional surfer Christiaan "Otter" Bailey of Santa Cruz, Ca.  via]

December 4, 2011 in Disability, Due Process (Substantive) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Conference Honoring Derrick Bell

“A Living, Working Faith”:

Remembering Our Colleague
Derrick A. Bell, Jr.


at COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL, NY, NY  on Saturday December 10th, 2011


This one day conference organized by Professors Kendall Thomas and Penelope Andrews will honor the work of the late ConLawProf Derrick Bell



  9 a.m. to 9.15 a.m: 
Welcome − Professor Kendall Thomas, Columbia Law School and
Professor Penelope Andrews, CUNY School of Law
9.15 a.m. - 10.30 a.m.
The Elusive Quest for Equality and the Permanence of Racism:  Faces at the Bottom of the Well and We Are Not Saved
Reflections Panel 1:
Chair:  Professor Penelope Andrews, CUNY School of Law
Professor Twila Perry, Rutgers University School of Law
Professor Sheila Foster, Fordham University School of Law
Professor Rose Villazor, Hofstra University School of Law
Professor Olati Johnson, Columbia University School of Law
10.30 a.m to 10. 45 a.m.  Morning Tea
10.45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Reflections Panel 2:
Chair:  Professor Kendall Thomas, Columbia University School of Law
Professor Susan Sturm, Columbia University School of Law
Professor Jenny Rivera, CUNY School of Law
Professor Leonard Baynes, St. John’s University School of Law
Professor Beryl Jones-Woodin, Brooklyn Law School
Professor Sonia Katyal, Fordham University School of Law
12:15 to 1:15 p.m.   Lunch
1:15 p.m. – 2.45 p.m. 
Derrick Bell as Teacher
Chair:  Professor Ruthann Robson, CUNY School of Law
Professor Vanessa Merton, Pace University School of Law
Professor Joy Radice, New York University School of Law
Professor Andrea McArdle, CUNY School of Law
Professor Robin Lenhardt, Fordham University School of Law
Professor I. Bennett Capers, Hofstra University School of Law
2:45 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Interest Convergence
Chair:   Professor Paulette Caldwell, New York University School of Law
Professor David Troutt, Rutgers University School of Law
Professor Julie Suk, Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University
Professor Rachel Godsil, Seton Hall University School of Law
Professor Taja-Nia Henderson, Rutgers University School of Law
Professor Theodore Shaw, Columbia University School of Law
4.00 to 5 p.m.
Closing Comments and Further Reflections

December 4, 2011 in Conferences, Profiles in Con Law Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)