July 16, 2020

Moose hunter v national parks: federal overreach case headed to supreme court

In a remote corner of the wild north, just south of the Arctic Circle, an Alaskan moose hunter and the national park service have set the stage for a legal battle now headed to the US supreme court.

What started nine years ago as a debate over whether a hovercraft (a water vessel that rides on a cushion of air) is the same as a boat (which rides on a hull in the water) has turned into a monster legal battle that has raised questions – and hackles – about state sovereignty and federal overreach.

Source: Moose hunter v national parks: federal overreach case headed to supreme court | US news | The Guardian

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U.S. Supreme Court Meets Today to Decide Whether to Accept Fair Housing Act Case

Press Release from National Center for Public Policy Research:

Does the Fair Housing Act Merely Require that People Be Treated Equally Regardless of Race, or Does it Require Equal Outcomes?

Washington, DC – U.S. Supreme Court justices meet today to discuss which cases they will hear during the Court’s upcoming term. Activists with the Project 21 black leadership network urge them to approve the organization’s request to accept a case addressing “disparate racial impact” claims under the Fair Housing Act.

The justices today will consider whether to hear the case of Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, et al. v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., which is on appeal from the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. On July 16, Project 21 joined an amici curiae legal brief submitted to the Court July asking the justices to accept the case and to define the legal scope of the Fair Housing Act. The brief argues the Act was written “to apply solely to disparate treatment, not acts having disparate impact on protected classes” and argues the U.S. Supreme Court must “consider the threshold question of whether disparate impact claims are even cognizable under the Fair Housing Act” since “disparate impact claims do not depend on the intent of the action or policy.”

“Project 21 and the other organizations joined together to urge the Supreme Court to act on this case because it is vital to test the legality of disparate impact claims made in the name of the Fair Housing Act,” said Project 21’s Hughey Newsome, a financial planner. “The notion that disparate impact claims can go beyond the intent of the authors of specific laws and with the only burden of proof for the accused is, in itself, disproportionate harm. And, regardless of the purpose, it sets a dangerous precedent. Once such a precedent is set, it seems there is really no limit to what can be done in the name of justice.”

The legal brief was written by the Pacific Legal Foundation and joined by the Center for Equal Opportunity, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, Individual Rights Foundation and Reason Foundation.

The Inclusive Communities Project claims the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, a state agency, violated the federal Fair Housing Act by allocating housing tax credits to developers in a manner that keeps minorities in low-income minority-majority neighborhoods in the Dallas metropolitan area. ICP charges the department’s tax credit distribution policy creates a disparate impact on black recipients of such credits as a class rather than addressing individual instances of alleged abuse.

“The framers of our government pledged to us a society based on a simple premise — that every American would be treated equally under the law. The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments made clear that this concept applied in matters of race,” said Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper, a legal commentator who taught constitutional law at George Mason University and is a former leadership staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives. “The disparate impact doctrine runs counter to this notion and, in particular, it does so where racial lines are involved. If we’re going to permanently end the temptation by government to divide us into racial groupings, we’ve got to return to the principles embodied in our Constitution and the color-blind policy advocated by Martin Luther King.”

In the past few years, the U.S. Supreme Court has twice accepted similar cases. However, these cases, Mount Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc. and Magner v. Gallagher, were removed from the Court’s schedule because they were settled prior to argument.

“Politically-motivated settlements in the past have kept the justices from ruling on this important question of whether or not the Fair Housing Act should be expanded to apply to the impact of policies and not just outright discrimination as was envisioned by the lawmakers who crafted it,” said Project 21 Co-Chairman Cherylyn Harley LeBon, a former senior counsel for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. “The Supreme Court would be wise to take this opportunity to finally tackle this important question.”

Citing the fact that appellate court jurisdictions have already tried to resolve this issue, but have formulated different ways in which to deal with claims, the brief points out that “[r]esolution of the question by this case would end the diversity of results that occur when different jurisdictions analyze substantially similar disparate impact claims.” Furthermore, “[s]ubjecting government defendants to disparate impact claims pressure them into engaging in unconstitutional race-conscious decisionmaking to avoid liability for such claims.”

“Lower courts try to answer this tricky question, and the result is a patchwork quilt of different remedies. Civil rights law cannot change from region to region. The Supreme Court needs to determine if such enforcement is even constitutional, and then — if it is — create a uniform way to deal with it,” said Project 21’s LeBon.

Project 21’s Cooper added: “It is one thing for the law to say that no person may be mistreated due to their race, but it is something alien and distinct to say that merely because of their race they’ll receive different treatment.”

In 2014, Project 21 members have been interviewed or cited by the media on current events over 1,300 times, including by the Fox News Special Report with Bret Baier, the O’Reilly Factor, Fox and Friends, CNN’s Situation Room, Salem Radio Network, Sean Hannity, Jim Bohannon, Conservative Commandos Radio, Bill Martinez, Radio America, American Urban Radio Network, Bill Cunningham, Roger Hedgecock, Mike Siegal, Dana Loesch, Thomm Hartmann, Progressive Radio Network, The Blaze, EurWeb, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, SiriusXM satellite radio, TVOne, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Orlando Sentinel and 50,000-watt talk radio stations including WBZ-Boston, WJR-Detroit, KDKA-Pittsburgh and WLW-Cincinnati. Project 21 has participated in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding race preferences and voting rights and defended voter ID laws at the United Nations. Its volunteer members come from all walks of life and are not salaried political professionals.

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank established in 1982. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.

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Supreme Court on Path to Ending Race Preferences

Ruling in Schuette Case Paves Way for More Equal, Less Divided America

Black Activists in Favor of Ending Quotas Available for Comments

Washington, DC – Attorneys and activists with the Project 21 black leadership network are pleased about today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on race preferences, and hope the Court’s latest ruling on race-conscious school admissions policies will become decisive in finally ending government-enforced rules creating arbitrary demographic quotas.

“Today, the Supreme Court moved us closer to the colorblind principle that Martin Luther King advocated and that is embedded in the 14th Amendment,” said Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper, a former constitutional law professor. “I’m pleased that the principle of treating all Americans the same under the law can go forward in Michigan.

In the case of Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, which was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court last October, the justices considered whether the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals correctly voided an amendment to the Michigan state constitution, passed by voters in 2006, prohibiting preferential treatment in public employment, education and contracting based on “race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.” The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which became Section 26 of the state’s constitution after its enactment, was supported by 58 percent of Michigan voters. It was struck down, however, by the 6th Circuit in 2012.

Project 21 submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the Schuette case written and joined by the Pacific Legal Foundation , noting that “[t]he clear effect of Section 26 is to prohibit the State and its political subdivisions from adopting race- and sex-based preference programs.” The brief also presented factual data about how the prohibition of race-based preferences in California increased diversity and minority retention rates. Similar to Michigan, California voters outlawed race preferences in public college and university admissions in 1996.

Project 21 held a meeting of experts to discuss the case featuring Jennifer Gratz, the executive director of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative after the Court’s oral arguments. Gratz was the plaintiff in the 2003 case of Gratz v. Bollinger that found the University of Michigan’s race conscious admissions policy violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. Her talk and the discussion following can be viewed online here.

“It remains to be seen as to whether this is the definitive ruling which will eliminate racial preference policies,” said Project 21 Co-Chairman Cherylyn Harley LeBon, a former senior counsel for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. “But I am encouraged that we are moving towards creating an equal playing field where the government does not choose the winners and inadvertent losers.”

During the last term of the U.S. Supreme Court, Project 21 was involved in the U.S. Supreme Court race preferences case of Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action as well as Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin on remand from the Supreme Court to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. In the previous U.S. Supreme Court term, it was involved in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin and the voting rights case of Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder.

Project 21 legal experts and other members of the organization have discussed these cases and others in media interviews in venues that include MSNBC, the Fox News Channel, HBO, Glenn Beck’s Blaze TV, the nationally-syndicated Jim Bohannon radio show, Florida Public Radio, the Christian Science Monitor, Reuters and many others.Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank established in 1982. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated .

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Wyoming Man Wins Federal Land Grab Case At U.S. Supreme Court

DENVER, CO. A Wyoming man seeking to overturn rulings by a Wyoming federal district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in favor of the U.S. Forest Service in a dispute over whether his land may be used as a federal trail today won a nearly unanimous victory before the Supreme Court of the United States. Marvin Brandt, of Fox Park, claims title to a railroad right-of-way that bisects his property. The right-of-way was used by a railroad from 1904 to 1995 when the railroad abandoned it; tracks and ties were removed by 2000. A Wyoming federal district court ruled the United States kept a reversionary interest in the right-of-way that could be used for a recreational trail, rejecting Mr. Brandt’s view that the right-of-way was an easement in which the United States has no interest. A Tenth Circuit three-judge panel upheld the ruling in September 2012. Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the 8-1 majority, “nothing in the text of the 1875 Act supports [the federal government’s] improbable (and self-serving) reading.”

“This is a great victory for Marvin Brandt who had the courage to fight back, for millions of landowners who might find themselves in his shoes, and for those who supported our efforts on his behalf,” said William Perry Pendley of Mountain States Legal Foundation, which represented Mr. Brandt.

On February 25, 1904, pursuant to the General Railroad Right-of-Way Act, the Laramie, Hahns Peak and Pacific Railroad Company filed with the U.S. Department of the Interior and, thus, in 1908, acquired a 200-foot-wide, 66-mile-long right-of-way from Laramie, Wyoming, to the Colorado State line. The railroad operated until September 1995, and, in May 1996, the railroad’s owner filed a Notice of Intent to Abandon Rail Service from near Laramie, Wyoming, to the Colorado State line. The track and ties were removed in 1999 and 2000 and service terminated at the end of 2003.

The land along the railroad right-of-way was reserved from the public domain by presidential proclamation and became part of the Medicine Bow National Forest. The private land areas of Albany, Fox Park, and Mountain Home along the right-of-way were acquired after creation of the railroad and are subject to it. At Albany, private lots were platted over the right-of-way and the land conveyed subject to the railroad. Abandonment of the railroad right-of-way thus creates a title conflict between these ownerships and the effects of the 1988 Rails-to-Trails Act. Mr. Brandt owns 83 acres of private land patented to him on February 18, 1976, as part of an exchange with the Forest Service. In April 2005, the Forest Service issued a notice of its plans to convert the railway into a public trail. On July 14, 2006, the United States sued Mr. Brandt and others. The court ruled on March 3, 2009.

Mountain States Legal Foundation, founded in 1977, is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and economic freedom. Its offices are in the Denver, Colorado, metropolitan area.

For more information: Brandt v. United States

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