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At issue was the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission’s (MMC) process that resulted in a decision awarding five top scoring applicants medical-marijuana-cultivation-facility licenses. Naturalis Health, LLC, one of the applicants that did not obtain a license, brought this complaint asserting that the MMC carried out the application process in a flawed, biased, and arbitrary and capricious manner. The circuit court agreed and went further to conclude that the MMC’s licensing process and decisions violated Amendment 98 of the Arkansas Constitution, were ultra vires, and violated due process. The court declared the MMC’s licensing decisions null and void and enjoined the MMC from issuing the cultivation-facility licenses. The Supreme Court reversed and dismissed the appeal brought by Appellants - MMC and others - holding that the circuit court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction under the Administrative Procedure Act. View "Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration v. Naturalis Health, LLC" on Justia Law

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At issue was the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission’s (MMC) process that resulted in a decision awarding five top scoring applicants medical-marijuana-cultivation-facility licenses. Naturalis Health, LLC, one of the applicants that did not obtain a license, brought this complaint asserting that the MMC carried out the application process in a flawed, biased, and arbitrary and capricious manner. The circuit court agreed and went further to conclude that the MMC’s licensing process and decisions violated Amendment 98 of the Arkansas Constitution, were ultra vires, and violated due process. The court declared the MMC’s licensing decisions null and void and enjoined the MMC from issuing the cultivation-facility licenses. The Supreme Court reversed and dismissed the appeal brought by Appellants - MMC and others - holding that the circuit court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction under the Administrative Procedure Act. View "Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration v. Naturalis Health, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has authority to enforce securities laws by instituting an administrative proceeding against an alleged wrongdoer, typically overseen by an administrative law judge (ALJ). Other staff members, rather than the Commission, selected all of the five current ALJs, who have “authority to do all things necessary and appropriate” to ensure a “fair and orderly” adversarial proceeding, 17 CFR 201.111, 200.14(a). After a hearing, the ALJ issues an initial decision. The Commission can review that decision, but if it opts against review, it issues an order that the initial decision is “deemed the action of the Commission,” 15 U.S.C. 78d–1(c). The SEC charged Lucia and assigned ALJ Elliot to adjudicate the case. Following a hearing, Elliot issued an initial decision concluding that Lucia had violated the law and imposing sanctions. Lucia argued that the proceeding was invalid because SEC ALJs are “Officers of the United States,” subject to the Appointments Clause. Under that Clause, only the President, “Courts of Law,” or “Heads of Departments” can appoint “Officers.” The SEC and the D. C. Circuit rejected Lucia’s argument. The Supreme Court reversed. SEC ALJs are subject to the Appointments Clause. To qualify as an officer, rather than an employee, an individual must occupy a “continuing” position established by law, and must “exercis[e] significant authority pursuant to the laws of the United States,” SEC ALJs hold a continuing office established 5 U.S.C. 556–557, 5372, 3105, and exercise “significant discretion." The ALJs have nearly all the tools of federal trial judges: they take testimony, conduct trials, rule on the admissibility of evidence, can enforce compliance with discovery orders, and prepare proposed findings and an opinion including remedies. Judge Elliot heard and decided Lucia’s case without a constitutional appointment. View "Lucia v. Securities and Exchange Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s judgment reversing the decision of the South Dakota Commission on Gaming, which revoked Defendant’s gaming support license and banned him from entering any gaming establishment in South Dakota, holding that the sanction imposed by the Commission was within its discretion. The Commission revoked Defendant’s license and imposed a sanction after concluding that Defendant mishandled money while working in a casino and that he was untruthful in the subsequent investigation. The circuit court concluded that several of the Commission’s factual findings were clearly erroneous and that the sanction imposed by the Commission was an abuse of discretion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Commission (1) did not err by concluding that Defendant acted dishonestly or fraudulently; and (2) did not abuse its discretion by revoking Defendant’s license and adding him to the exclusion list. View "South Dakota Commission on Gaming v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Board of Tax Appeals affirming the decision of the tax commissioner finding that Ohio Rev. Code 5709.911 subordinated a property’s original tax increment financing (TIF) exemption to the public-worship exemption from taxation. The Fairfield Township Board of Trustees filed a complaint against the continued exemption from taxation as a house of public worship, claiming that by granting the property owner the public-worship exemption and by continuing the exemption, the tax commissioner unlawfully relieved the church of its payment obligations as the owner of property subject to a recorded covenant. The covenant in question related to a TIF agreement entered into between the Township and a previous owner of the church property. The tax commissioner rejected the Township’s agreement, and the Board of Tax Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) by dictating that TIF exemptions be subordinated to other exemptions, section 5709.911 barred the enforcement of the real covenant with respect to service payments; and (2) the Township lacked standing to raise its constitutional challenge to section 5709.911. View "Fairfield Township Board of Trustees v. Testa" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that the EPA failed to perform its nondiscretionary duty under the Clean Water Act to promulgate pollutant limits for biologically impaired waters in West Virginia. The court held that plaintiffs have standing to bring the claim, but reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for plaintiffs. In this case, because West Virginia has demonstrated that it is making — and will continue to make — good-faith efforts to comply with SB 562, and because West Virginia has a credible plan in concert with the EPA to produce ionic toxicity total maximum daily loads, if the constructive submission doctrine were to apply, it would not be satisfied. View "Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Inc. v. Pruitt" on Justia Law

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At issue was the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission’s preapproval of approximately $20 million in infrastructure investments, for which the Commission authorized increases to NIPSCO Industrial Group’s natural-gas rates under the mechanism implemented by the so-called “TDSIC” statute. Under the TDSIC statute, a utility can seek regulatory approval of a seven-year plan that designates eligible improvements followed by periodic petitions to adjust rates automatically as approved investments are completed. Some of the largest customers of NIPSCO, an energy utility with more than 800,000 customers in northern Indiana, opposed NIPSCO’s entitlement to favorable rate treatment under the TDSIC statute on the grounds that the disputed projects did not comply with the statute’s requirements. The Commission approved various categories of improvements but did not designate those improvements with specificity. The Supreme Court reversed the Commission’s order in part, holding (1) the TDSIC statute permits periodic rate increases only for specific projects a utility designates, and the Commission approves, at the outset in a utility’s seven-year-plan and not in later proceedings involving periodic updates; and (2) the Commission’s approval of “broad categories of unspecific projects defeats the purpose of having a ‘plan.’” View "NIPSCO Industrial Group v. Northern Public Service Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were 23 federally qualified health centers (FQHC’s) and rural health clinics (RHC’s) that served medically underserved populations (the Clinics). The dispute before the Court of Appeal centered on coverage for adult dental, chiropractic, and podiatric services the FQHC’s and RHC’s provided to Medi-Cal patients for a period between 2009 and 2013. Prior to July 1, 2009, the Department processed and paid claims for these services. In 2009, in a cost-cutting measure due to budget problems, the Legislature enacted Welfare and Institutions Code section 14131.101 to exclude coverage for these services (and others) “to the extent permitted by federal law.” After the Department stopped paying claims for these services, various FQHC’s and RHC’s challenged the validity of section 14131.10, claiming it conflicted with federal Medicaid law. In California Assn. of Rural Health Clinics v. Douglas, 738 F.3d 1007 (9th Cir. 2013), the Ninth Circuit held section 14131.10 was invalid to the extent it eliminated coverage for these services when provided by FQHC’s and RHC’s because the federal Medicaid Act imposed on participating states the obligation to cover these services by these providers. In response to CARHC, the Department announced it would reimburse FQHC’s and RHC’s for these services for dates of service only on or after September 26, 2013, the date of the Ninth Circuit’s mandate. Seeking reimbursement for services provided prior to September 26, 2103, the Clinics petitioned for a writ of mandate to compel the Department to accept, process, and pay claims for these services for the period July 1, 2009, to September 26, 2013. The trial court granted the petition in part and entered judgment for the Clinics. The Department appeals. Characterizing the Clinics’ writ petition as a suit for damages, it contended: (1) sovereign immunity barred the Clinics’ claims for retroactive payment; (2) the CARHC decision was retroactive because the Medicaid Act is spending clause legislation and its terms were not sufficiently clear as to the requirement to cover adult dental, chiropractic, and podiatric services provided by FQHC’s and RHC’s; and (3) retroactive relief violated the separation of powers doctrine because it forces the Legislature to appropriate money. The Court of Appeal disagreed with the Department’s characterization of the Clinics’ lawsuit. "Rather than a suit for damages, the lawsuit seeks an order to compel performance of a mandatory duty and did not result in a money judgment. Under well-settled California law, such a mandamus proceeding is not barred by sovereign immunity. The Department’s contentions based on spending clause legislation and separation of powers are new arguments raised for the first time on appeal. We exercise our discretion to consider only the spending clause argument. We reject it because the Department has not shown its obligations under Medicaid law, as determined by CARHC, came as a surprise. The separation of powers argument raises factual issues about appropriations that should have been presented in the trial court and we decline to consider this new argument." Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment. View "American Indian Health etc. v. Kent" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff challenged LACERA's forfeiture of his vested retirement benefits based on the determination by the County that plaintiff's gambling conduct was committed in the scope of his official duties pursuant to the Public Employees' Pension Reform Act of 2013, Government Code 7522 et seq. The Court of Appeal held that section 7522.72 is constitutionally sound, but that LACERA, not the County, bears the burden to afford plaintiff the requisite due process protections in determining whether his conviction fell within the scope of the statute. Therefore, the court modified the judgment to require the County to provide the requisite due process. View "Hipsher v. Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Ass'n" on Justia Law

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Alejandro Lujan Jimenez petitioned for review a final order of removal and an order by the Bureau of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) declining to sua sponte reopen removal proceedings. Lujan is a native and citizen of Mexico. He first entered the United States as a child sometime in the 1990s. His most recent entry into the United States occurred in May 2004. In January 2007, Lujan pled guilty in Colorado state court to Criminal Trespass of a Motor Vehicle with the Intent to Commit a Crime Therein, and sentenced to 35 days in jail. The Department of Homeland Security filed a notice charging Lujan as removable. He received three continuances of removal proceedings until April 2009 when he conceded removability. Lujan then applied for adjustment of status and cancellation of removal. He obtained four additional continuances of his removal proceedings. Lujan appeared in immigration court on June 5, 2013, and the IJ granted counsel’s motion to withdraw. Lujan stated that he was attempting to obtain new counsel, but proceeded pro se at the hearing. The IJ denied relief, concluding that Lujan was ineligible for adjustment of status based on his immigration history and that he was ineligible for cancellation of removal because he had been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude—his criminal trespass offense in Colorado. Lujan appealed to the BIA, arguing that the IJ’s denial of a continuance violated his right to due process and that his Colorado conviction was not a crime involving moral turpitude. The BIA affirmed the IJ’s ruling. Lujan then filed an untimely petition for review, which was dismissed. The Tenth Circuit determined it lacked jurisdiction over petition number 17-9527: review of the BIA’s decision declining to sua sponte reopen his removal proceedings. The Court has previously held that “we do not have jurisdiction to consider [a] petitioner’s claim that the BIA should have sua sponte reopened the proceedings . . . because there are no standards by which to judge the agency’s exercise of discretion.” View "Lujan-Jimenez v. Sessions" on Justia Law