Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

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The Pennsylvania Democratic Party and several Democratic elected officials and congressional candidates, some in their official capacity and/or as private citizens (collectively, “Petitioner”), filed suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief relating primarily to five issues of statutory interpretation involving Act 77 of 2019 and the Election Code, 25 P.S. sections 2600-3591. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court exercised Extraordinary Jurisdiction to address these issues and to clarify the law of the Commonwealth in time for the 2020 General Election. Petitioner requested: (1) declaratory relief to confirm Act 77 permitted local election boards “to provide secure, easily accessible locations ... where appropriate, mobile or temporary collection sites, and/or drop-boxes for the collection of mail-in ballots; (2) an injunction to “lift the deadline in the Election Code across the state to allow any ballot postmarked by 8:00 p.m. on Election Night to be counted if it is received by the Boards” by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 10, the deadline for ballots to be received under the Federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act or to allow boards discretion to extend deadlines to 21 days after the voter's ballot is mailed by the county; (3) an injunction requiring boards to contact electors whose mailed-in ballots are incomplete or incorrectly completed; (4) a declaration there was no no statutory authority to set aside an absentee or mail-in ballot solely for failure to place it into the "secrecy envelope"; and (5) a declaration that the “Election Code’s poll watcher residency requirement does not violate the United States Constitution’s First and Fourteenth Amendments, its Equal Protection Clause, or the Equal Protection and Free and Equal Elections Clauses of the Pennsylvania Constitution.” The Supreme Court granted relief on counts 1, 2 and 5 of the petition; the Court denied relief sought on counts 3 and 4. View "PA Dem Party. v. Boockvar, et al : Boockvar" on Justia Law

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Between March and August 2020, the Green Party of Pennsylvania (“Green Party”) circulated signature pages for a nomination paper pertaining to a slate of five candidates for federal and state office: Elizabeth Faye Scroggin for President of the United States; Neal Taylor Gale for Vice President of the United States; Timothy Runkle for Treasurer of Pennsylvania; Olivia Faison for Auditor General of Pennsylvania; and Richard Weiss for Attorney General of Pennsylvania. On August 3, the deadline for filing nomination papers, Runkle presented the nomination paper at issue in this appeal. Runkle appended to the nomination paper notarized candidate affidavits for himself, Faison, and Weiss, but he did not submit affidavits for Scroggin or Gale. Instead, Runkle’s submission included a notarized candidate affidavit for Howie Hawkins and a non-notarized affidavit for Angela Walker (“Candidates”), who were nominated as the Green Party’s candidates for President and Vice President, respectively, at the national Green Party Convention in July 2020. On August 10, the Green Party filed two Substitute Nomination Certificates, seeking to replace Scroggin and Gale with Hawkins and Walker. The certificates, which were signed and notarized on August 6 (for Hawkins) and 7 (for Walker), indicated that the cause of each vacancy was “[r]esignation,” and that the substitutions of Hawkins and Walker were made by the Green Party on August 2, the day before Runkle presented the nomination paper in the filing office designated by the Department. Objectors filed a petition to set aside the Green Party candidates’ nomination paper as to the entire slate as well as to the purported substitutions and candidacies of Hawkins and Walker. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined the Commonwealth Court erred in dismissing Objectors’ petition to set aside Scroggin’s nomination, and Hawkins’ substitution, as the Green Party’s candidate for President of the United States. The Court found Scroggin failed to comply with the Election Code’s strict mandate that she append an original affidavit to her nomination paper, and the party’s use of Hawkins’ affidavit while presenting a nomination paper in which he was not “named therein” did not suffice to cure that error. "That defect was fatal to Scroggin’s nomination and, therefore, to Hawkins’ substitution." Accordingly, the Secretary of the Commonwealth was directed to remove Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker from the general election ballot as the Green Party’s nominees for President and Vice President. View "In Re: Nom Papers of Scroggin; Appeal of Stefano" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court reversing the decision of the Department of Labor determining that sergeants in the Yankton Police Department are ineligible for membership in a collective bargaining unit because they have authority to hire or effectively recommend hiring decisions, holding that the circuit court erred in disturbing the Department's findings and conclusions.The City of Yankton filed a request with the Department to define the membership of a collective bargaining unit. After a hearing, the Department found that police sergeants have authority to hire or effectively recommend hiring and are thus excluded from membership in the collective bargaining unit. The circuit court reversed, holding that sergeants should be included in bargaining unit membership. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court erred in determining that the Department's relevant findings of fact were inadequate and that its conclusions of law were incorrect; and (2) the circuit court erred in determining that sergeants have no authority to hire or effectively recommend hiring decisions. View "Fraternal Order Of Police v. City Of Yankton" on Justia Law

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On October 25, 2011, Appellant Nicole B.’s then-eight-year-old son N.B. was sexually assaulted by three of his male fourth-grade classmates in a bathroom at his public elementary school in the City of Philadelphia. According to Appellant, N.B. had endured two months of pervasive physical and verbal harassment at school leading up to the sexual assault. During that time, both Appellant and N.B. reported the harassment to his teacher and to school administrators, to no avail. In November 2011, Appellant withdrew N.B. from the elementary school after learning of the attack. Over two years later, in 2014, Appellant filed an administrative complaint with the Human Relations Commission against the Philadelphia School District (“District”) in her individual capacity and on N.B.’s behalf, asserting claims of discrimination on the basis of gender and race under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”). The Human Relations Commission rejected Appellant’s complaint as untimely, because it was filed beyond the 180-day time limit. In this appeal by allowance, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court considered whether principles of equitable tolling found in PHRA, or Pennsylvania’s Minority Tolling Statute (“Minority Tolling Statute”), applied to an otherwise untimely complaint. After review, the Supreme Court found the PHRA’s equitable tolling provision applied to a minor whose parent failed to satisfy the applicable statute of limitations for filing an administrative complaint prior to the minor reaching the age of majority. By this finding, the Court reversed the order of the Commonwealth Court. View "Nicole B. v. Philadelphia Sch. Dist., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Parkford Owners for a Better Community (Parkford), appealed a judgment entered in favor of defendants, Placer County and Placer County Community Development Resource Agency (collectively, the County), and real parties in interest, Silversword Properties, LLC (Silversword), K.H. Moss Company, and Moss Equity (collectively, Moss). Silversword owned property upon which Moss operated a commercial self-storage facility (Treelake Storage). Parkford’s lawsuit challenged the County’s issuance of a building permit for construction of an expansion of Treelake Storage, claiming the County failed to comply with both the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the Planning and Zoning Law. The trial court concluded: (1) the County’s issuance of the building permit was ministerial rather than discretionary, and therefore CEQA did not apply; and (2) Parkford’s challenge under the Planning and Zoning Law was barred by the statute of limitations. Real parties in interest, joined by the County, argued the trial court correctly decided each of these issues, and in the alternative, urged the Court of Appeal to affirm the judgment because Parkford’s challenge to the building permit became moot prior to the entry of judgment, when construction on the expansion project was completed. The Court concluded Parkford’s claims were moot and dismissed the appeal. View "Parkford Owners for a Better Community v. County of Placer" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied the petition filed by United Nurses and Allied Professionals (the Union) for review of the decision of the National Labor Relations Board (the Board) ruling that lobbying expenses are categorically not chargeable to objecting employees, holding that unions cannot require objectors to contribute toward lobbying costs.Jeanette Geary worked as a nurse at a Rhode Island hospital where the Union was the exclusive bargaining representative. Geary challenged the Union's decision to charge her for some of its 2009 lobbying expenses and to refuse her a letter verifying that its expenses were examined by an independent auditor. The Board ruled in favor of Geary. The First Circuit upheld the decision, holding (1) the Board's decision on the Union's lobbying expenses comported with Supreme Court decisions addressing the changeability of lobbying expenses by public-sector unions; and (2) the Board's determination requiring the Union to provide Geary a letter signed by an auditor verifying that the financial information disclosed to the objectors had been independently audited was reasonable. View "United Nurses & Allied Professional v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from Beaufort County, South Carolina's refusal to issue Grays Hill Baptist Church a construction permit to build a fellowship hall adjacent to its existing sanctuary. The court of appeals reversed the master's order and reinstated the Beaufort County Planning Commission's decision to deny the permit because the Church's 1997 development permit did not include the fellowship hall and had expired. After review, the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed the the court of appeals and ordered Beaufort County to issue the Church a construction permit for the fellowship hall under its original 1997 development permit. The Court found the Planning Commission erred in finding that the Church's original 1997 development permit did not authorize the development of the fellowship hall because the proposed building was clearly indicated in the permit application and plat. "There is no evidence in the record to support the Commission's finding that the original permit only authorized development of the church and that the certificate of compliance closed out the 1997 development permit. Consequently, the County erred in requiring the Church to request a new development permit." View "Grays Hill Baptist Church v. Beaufort County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying a writ of mandamus ordering the Industrial Commission to vacate an award of medical-service reimbursement to Diana Garringer for a right reverse total-shoulder arthroplasty, holding that the Commission did not abuse its discretion.Garringer injured her right shoulder while working for Omni Manor. The next year, the Commission granted Garringer's request for medical-service reimbursement for a reverse total-shoulder arthroplasty. Omni Manor requested a writ of mandamus ordering the Commission to vacate its order granting the reimbursement request. The court of appeals denied the request. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission correctly applied the standard set forth in State ex rel. Miller v. Industrial Commission, 643 N.E.2d 113 (Ohio 1994); and (2) the Commission did not abuse its discretion in considering certain evidence. View "State ex rel. Omni Manor, Inc. v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Michael Cole appealed a district court order remanding a driver's license revocation proceeding for hearing following his due process challenge. Cole violated Oklahoma's implied consent law after his arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence. Cole attempted to contest the revocation of his driver's license by requesting an administrative hearing from Defendant-appellee State of Oklahoma ex rel. Department of Public Safety (DPS). However, DPS determined that Cole's hearing request was insufficient and revoked Cole's license for one year. The issue presented for the Oklahoma Supreme Court's review was whether DPS violated Cole's procedural due process rights in declining to hold a hearing when Cole failed to follow DPS's rule in submitting his hearing request. To this, the Court held DPS could designate how it receives hearing requests by administrative rule and DPS did not violate Cole's procedural due process rights when Cole failed to properly request an administrative hearing pursuant to Okla. Admin. Code section 595:1-3-7 (2017). View "Cole v. Oklahoma ex rel. Dept. of Public Safety" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Appellant's petition for review of the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissing Appellant's appeal from the decision of the immigration judge (IJ) denying Appellant's application for asylum, withholding of removal (WOR), and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT), holding that the conclusions of the IJ and BIA were supported by substantial evidence.Appellant, a Honduran national, filed an application for asylum, WOR, and CAT relief. The IJ denied Appellant's applications and ordered that he be removed to Honduras. The BIA dismissed Appellant's petition for asylum and WOR and denied his application for protection under CAT. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the BIA and IJ's conclusion that Appellant did not show that the government of Honduras was unable or unwilling to protect him was supported by substantial evidence; and (2) Appellant did not establish that it was more likely than not that he would be tortured if removed to Honduras. View "Gomez-Medina v. Barr" on Justia Law