Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

By
In this case involving substantial consequences for alleged violations of campaign finance laws, the same individual issued the initial decision finding violations and ordering remedies, participated personally in the prosecution of the case before an administrative law judge, and then made the final agency decision that would receive only deferential review. The court of appeals concluded that because Appellants made no showing of actual bias their due process rights were not violated by the individual’s role as both advocate and adjudicator. The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals, holding that, although Appellants did not allege actual bias, the circumstances of this case deprived them of due process, as Appellants were entitled to a determination by a neutral decisionmaker. Remanded. View "Horne v. Polk" on Justia Law

By
At issue in this case was the application of the general rule that a litigant may appeal an adverse ruling only after the trial court renders a final judgment when a trial court has granted a petition for writ of administrative mandamus and remanded the matter for proceedings before an administrative body. The court of appeal dismissed Defendant’s appeal, concluding that the superior court’s order remanding the matter to the administrative body was not a final, appealable order. The Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of Defendant’s appeal and remanded the matter to the court of appeal with directions to reinstate the appeal, holding that because the issuance of the writ marked the end of the writ proceeding in the trial court, even if it did not definitely resolve the dispute between the parties, the trial court’s order was a final judgment. View "Dhillon v. John Muir Health" on Justia Law

By
Since 1972, Mendocino County has approved aggregate and asphalt production on the site; it approved a 2002 permit after review under the California Environmental Protection Act (CEQA). In 2009, the County proceeded under CEQA, prepared an environmental impact report, and updated its General Plan, changing the site’s designation from Rangeland to Industrial, then rezoned 61 parcels, including the site, to conform to updated use designations. Grist Creek acquired the site and wanted to resume aggregate and asphalt production; there had been little production due to market conditions and equipment had been removed. Due to environmental impacts, Grist initially pursued only an aggregate and concrete operation. The Planning Department undertook CEQA review; the County adopted a conditional negative declaration. Later, Grist Creek proposed asphalt production. The County Board of Supervisors declared that proposal was neither a new nor a changed, industrial use. The Planning Department issued a “Notice of Exemption” for “[r]esumption of . . . aggregate processing plant,” The air pollution control officer issued an Authority to Construct without further environmental review. The court dismissed a CEQA suit against the Air Quality Management District. The court of appeal reversed; CEQA claims are allowed against air quality management districts, but the suit does not challenge any land use designations or authorizations. The District (a separate governmental agency) only assessed the proposal’s impact on air quality and issued an “Authority to Construct.” Even under CEQA, this is an administrative proceeding; the only possible relief is invalidation of the Authority to Construct. View "Friends of Outlet Creek v. Mendocino County" on Justia Law

By
The Fourth Circuit affirmed in substantial part the district court's issuance of a nationwide injunction as to Section 2(c) of the challenged Second Executive Order (EO-2), holding that the reasonable observer would likely conclude EO-2's primary purpose was to exclude persons from the United States on the basis of their religious beliefs. Section 2(c) reinstated the ninety-day suspension of entry for nationals from six countries, eliminating Iraq from the list, but retaining Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Determining that the case was justiciable, the Fourth Circuit held that plaintiffs have more than plausibly alleged that EO-2's stated national security interest was provided in bad faith, as a pretext for its religious purpose. Because the facially legitimate reason offered by the government was not bona fide, the court no longer deferred to that reason and instead may look behind the challenged action. Applying the test in Lemon v. Kurtzman, the court held that the evidence in the record, viewed from the standpoint of the reasonable observer, created a compelling case that EO-2's primary purpose was religious. Then-candidate Trump's campaign statements revealed that on numerous occasions, he expressed anti-Muslim sentiment, as well as his intent, if elected, to ban Muslims from the United States. President Trump and his aides have made statements that suggest EO-2's purpose was to effectuate the promised Muslim ban, and that its changes from the first executive order reflect an effort to help it survive judicial scrutiny, rather than to avoid targeting Muslims for exclusion from the United States. These statements, taken together, provide direct, specific evidence of what motivated both executive orders: President Trump's desire to exclude Muslims from the United States and his intent to effectuate the ban by targeting majority-Muslim nations instead of Muslims explicitly. Because EO-2 likely fails Lemon's purpose prong in violation of the Establishment Clause, the district court did not err in concluding that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim. The court also held that plaintiffs will likely suffer irreparable harm; the Government's asserted national security interests do not outweigh the harm to plaintiffs; and the public interest counsels in favor of upholding the preliminary injunction. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that a nationwide injunction was necessary to provide complete relief, but erred in issuing an injunction against the President himself. View "International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump" on Justia Law

By
For over 40 years, San Francisco has had an ordinance that imposes a tax on parking lot users for the “rent” paid to occupy private parking spaces. Since 1980, the amount of the tax has been 25 percent of the rent; parking lot users owe the tax, but parking lot operators are required to collect the tax when the users pay to park and periodically remit it to San Francisco. The ordinance states it is not to be construed as imposing a tax on the state or its political subdivisions but those “exempt” entities must “collect, report, and remit” the tax. The universities operate parking lots on property that is close to university facilities and is mostly owned by the state; they have never collected or remitted city parking taxes. In 2011, San Francisco directed the universities to start collecting and remitting the tax. After the universities refused, San Francisco unsuccessfully sought to compel compliance, citing its “home rule” powers. The court of appeals agreed that the universities are immune from compliance with the ordinance because they have not expressly consented to collecting and remitting the tax and their parking-lot operations are a governmental, not a proprietary, function. View "City and County of San Francisco v. Regents of the University of California" on Justia Law

By
Rita McIntosh appealed a circuit court’s judgment affirming the Mississippi Real Estate Commission’s disciplinary order against her, finding that McIntosh had engaged in “improper dealing.” According to the order, McIntosh, as exclusive agent of the seller, interjected herself into the lender’s appraiser selection process and then tried to keep the selected appraiser from completing the appraisal assignment. The Commission imposed a ninety-day suspension, plus a thirty-day suspension held in abeyance, along with eight months’ probation and continuing education courses. Because the Mississippi Supreme Court found McIntosh’s alleged conduct did not constitute improper dealing as contemplated by the Mississippi Real Estate Brokers License Act, it reversed rendered judgment in favor of McIntosh. View "McIntosh v. Mississippi Real Estate Comm'n" on Justia Law

By
Dr. Andy Barlow was disciplined by the Mississippi State Board of Chiropractic Examiners for advertising in violation of the statutes governing chiropractors. The complaint alleged that Dr. Barlow advertised using professional designations other than “chiropractor,” “doctor of chiropractic,” “D.C.,” or “chiropractic physician”; Dr. Barlow advertised as D.C., and also as DACNB, FACFN, and as a “Chiropractic Neurologist.” The Board levied a monetary penalty plus the costs of his prosecution. The circuit court affirmed the Board, and Dr. Barlow appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court, alleging that the statute governing chiropractic advertising had been implicitly amended or repealed, that the statute governing chiropractic advertising violated his First Amendment rights, and that the Board was without authority to assess the costs of the investigation to him. Furthermore, he argued the circuit court erred by failing to afford him a “de novo appeal.” Because Dr. Barlow’s arguments on whether he should be disciplined lack merit, the Court affirmed the judgments of the Board and circuit court on those issues. However, because the Board lacked authority to directly assess Dr. Barlow the costs of its investigation, the Court reversed on the issue of costs. View "Barlow v. Miss.State Bd. of Chiropractic Examiners" on Justia Law

By
Petitioner challenged as unconstitutional certain restrictions imposed upon attorneys who were employed by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (Board), and sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The Board filed preliminary objections, asserting petitioner lacked standing to pursue her claim, her claim was not yet ripe, and in any event, her claim failed on the merits. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overruled the Board’s preliminary objections as to standing and ripeness, but nevertheless concluded petitioner was not entitled to relief on the merits as the restrictions included in the Gaming Act were constitutionally sound. View "Yocum v. PA Gaming Control Board" on Justia Law

By
Appellants were minority stockholders in First Community Bank of Crawford County (FBC). After First Bank reached an agreement to merge with FCB, First Bank filed an application with the Arkansas State Banking Board. The Board subsequently approved the merger. Appellants filed a complaint seeking review of the Board’s decision, arguing (1) the Board did not adequately fulfill its duties under administrative law in reaching its decision, and (2) the statues and regulations followed by the Board unconstitutionally infringe on the due process and property rights of minority stockholders. The circuit court concluded that Appellants failed to preserve their substantive objections due to their failure to present these objections before the Board. The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of Appellants’ claims, holding that Appellants’ arguments were not preserved for judicial review. View "Booth v. Franks" on Justia Law

By
On remand from the United States Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's order denying enforcement of an administrative subpoena issued by the EEOC to McLane that was issued as part of an investigation of a sex discrimination claim filed by a former employee. The subpoena requested "pedigree information" for employees or prospective employees who took a physical capability strength test. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court abused its discretion by denying enforcement of the subpoena because the pedigree information was relevant to the investigation. Therefore, the panel vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. On remand, McLane is free to renew its argument that the EEOC's request for pedigree information is unduly burdensome, and the district court should also resolve whether producing a second category of evidence—the reasons test takers were terminated—would be unduly burdensome to McLane. View "EEOC V. McLane Co." on Justia Law