Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Oregon Supreme Court
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The Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) issued a permit, pursuant to ORS 196.825, for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (“Walmart”) to fill and remove some wetlands on private property in order to build a new store in The Dalles. Citizens for Responsible Development in The Dalles (Citizens) opposed the project and appealed the fill permit, arguing that DSL lacked authority to issue the permit because DSL did not find that there was a “public need” for the project. The Court of Appeals agreed with Citizens that DSL erred in issuing the permit “[b]ecause DSL found that it was inconclusive whether the project would address a public need.” The Oregon Supreme Court granted certiorari to construe ORS 196.825, and thereafter affirmed the Court of Appeals: the matter was remanded to DSL. "[A]lthough we disagree with its premise that ORS 196.825 conditions the issuance of every permit on a finding that the proposed project will serve a 'public need,' . . . Because DSL found that all categories of public benefit from the project were 'inconclusive' but failed to find that the project would not 'interfere' with the state’s 'paramount policy,' the record does not support its determination that the project will not 'unreasonably interfere.'” View "Citizens for Resp. Devel. in The Dalles v. Walmart" on Justia Law

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In consolidated ballot title review cases, petitioner Hurst and petitioners Van Dusen and Steele challenged the Oregon Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 50 (2020) (IP 50). If adopted, IP 50 would amend ORS 468A.205, which set aspirational greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, including the goal of achieving greenhouse gas levels that were at least 75% below 1990 levels by the year 2050. ORS 468A.205(1)(c). The current statute also expressly provided that it did not create any additional regulatory authority for any agency of the executive department. IP 50 would amend ORS 468A.205 to mandate staged reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel and industrial sources (including achieving greenhouse gas emissions levels that are “at least 100 percent below 1990 levels” by 2050); to require the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) to adopt rules to ensure compliance with the new greenhouse gas emissions limits; and to require the Department of Environmental Quality to enforce the rules that the EQC adopts. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded that certain of petitioner Hurst’s arguments that the ballot title did not substantially comply with ORS 250.035(2) were well taken, and thus the Court referred the ballot title to the Attorney General for modification. View "Hurst/Van Dusen v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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In Friends of Columbia Gorge v. Energy Fac. Siting Coun., 365 Or 371, 446 P3d 53 (2019), the Oregon Supreme Court held that the Energy Facility Siting Council had failed to substantially comply with a procedural requirement when it amended rules governing how it processes requests for amendment (RFAs) to site certificates that the council issued. The Court therefore held that the rules were invalid. In response to that decision, the council adopted temporary rules governing the RFA process. Petitioners contended that those temporary rules were also invalid. According to petitioners, the rules were invalid because the council failed to prepare a statement of its findings justifying the use of temporary rules. Petitioners also maintained that the council’s rules exceed the 180-day limit on temporary rules or otherwise improperly operated retroactively. After review, the Supreme Court disagreed with petitioners’ arguments and concluded the temporary rules were valid. View "Friends of Columbia Gorge v. Energy Fac. Siting Coun." on Justia Law

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The Oregon State Land Board voted to sell a parcel of the Elliott State Forest, part of the common school lands granted to the state. The circuit court dismissed the petition for judicial review of the order of sale brought by Cascadia Wildlands and three other petitioners, based on their lack of standing. The Court of Appeals concluded that there was standing and decided the issue of whether ORS 530.450, which prohibited the State Land Board from selling a part of the school and university lands (including the parcel of the Elliott State Forest that was subject to sale) unconstitutionally restricted the power of the State Land Board to carry out its constitutional duty and, thus, has been void since enactment. The Oregon Supreme Court concurred with the Court of Appeals finding the constitutionality of ORS 530.450, and reversing and remanding the judgment of the circuit court. View "Cascadia Wildlands v. Dept. of State Lands" on Justia Law

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This was a companion case to Penn v. Board of Parole, 365 Or 607 (2019). Like the petitioner in Penn, petitioner Brian Tuckenberry sought relief from a special condition of supervision, imposed on him by an order of the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision, that required Tuckenberry to obtain permission from his parole officer before entering into any “intimate” relationship or encounter. But, unlike the petitioner in Penn, petitioner was unrepresented by counsel and did not raise the issues and arguments in his administrative review request to the board that he now raised before the Oregon Supreme Court. The board contended that, as a result, petitioner failed to exhaust administrative review as required by ORS 144.335(1)(b) and that his appeal, therefore, could not be considered on its merits. The Supreme Court concluded however, that: (1) petitioner objected to the special condition and complied with the statutory exhaustion requirement; and (2) the proceedings before the board were not of the sort that, under the general prudential exhaustion principles that ORS 144.335(1)(b) incorporated, would require petitioner to have raised the specific legal arguments that he raised here, on pain of being barred from judicial review of the board’s order. The Supreme Court did consider petitioner’s objections to the condition of post-prison supervision regulating his "intimate" relationships and encounters, and concluded, for reasons set out in Penn, that the condition was not lawfully imposed in accordance with the statute governing the board’s authority. View "Tuckenberry v. Board of Parole" on Justia Law

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When petitioner Prentice Penn was released from prison to post-prison supervision, the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision included a special condition in its order requiring that petitioner not “enter into or participate in any intimate relationship or intimate encounters with any person (male or female) without the prior written permission” of his supervising officer. On appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court, petitioner contended: (1) the board lacked statutory authority to impose the condition; and, (2) the condition was unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because it was vague or overbroad. The board noted that petitioner had completed his term of post-prison supervision and was no longer subject to the challenged condition; therefore, the board argued, a decision would not have a practical effect on petitioner’s rights and the case should have been dismissed. The Supreme Court determined that though petitioner’s appeal was moot, it was one that could and should have been decided under ORS 14.175, which provided an exception to the general rule (that moot cases should be dismissed) for cases in which a party alleges that an act, policy, or practice of a public body is contrary to law. On the merits of petitioner’s appeal, the Supreme Court held the board exceeded the scope of its statutory authority in imposing the special condition on petitioner. View "Penn v. Board of Parole" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Julie Parrish challenged the Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 13 (2020) (IP 13). Intervenor Uherbelau intervened generally in support of the Attorney General’s certified ballot title. If adopted, IP 13 would amend Article IX of the Oregon Constitution to add a new section, section 16. Subsection 16(1) would require the State Treasurer to “calculate the unfunded actuarial liability of any public employee retirement program or system as of December 31, 2022.” The Oregon Supreme Court reviewed the ballot title for substantial compliance with ORS 250.035(2). After review, the Supreme Court concluded the ballot title for IP 13 did not substantially comply with ORS 250.035(2) in several respects, and therefore referred it to the Attorney General for modification. View "Parrish v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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The dispute in this workers’ compensation case arises out of a question relating to overlapping statutory provisions that control the determination of permanent partial disability. ORS 656.214 obligated employers to provide compensation for a worker’s permanent impairment, meaning “loss of use or function” that is “due to the compensable industrial injury.” But ORS 656.005(7)(a)(B) limited the employer’s liability when the compensable injury combines with a qualifying “preexisting condition” to “cause or prolong” the injured worker’s’ disability or need for medical treatment, unless the compensable injury is the “major contributing cause” of the “combined condition.” The question presented for the Oregon Supreme Court's review centered on whether the legislature intended an employer would obtain the same limited liability when the employer did not follow the process that the legislature created for estimating a reduced amount of permanent impairment following the denial of a “combined condition.” The Supreme Court concluded the legislature intended that injured workers would be fully compensated for new impairment if it was due in material part to the compensable injury, except where an employer has made use of the statutory process for reducing liability after issuing a combined condition denial. View "Caren v. Providence Health System Oregon" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sought a declaration that the City of Lake Oswego had allow them recreational access to Oswego Lake, either from the shoreline of the city’s waterfront parks (from which the city prohibits all water access) or through the city’s residents-only swim park. According to plaintiffs, the common-law doctrines of public trust and public use protected the public’s right to enter the lake, and the city’s restrictions on access to the lake were contrary to those common-law doctrines. Plaintiffs also contended the city’s restrictions violated the Equal Privileges and Immunities guarantee of the Oregon Constitution. Defendants were the City of Lake Oswego the State of Oregon, and the Lake Oswego Corporation (which held title to riparian rights to the lake). The case reached the Oregon Supreme Court following a summary judgment in which the trial court assumed that the lake was among public waterways to which the doctrine of public trust or public use applied, but held that neither those doctrines nor Article I, section 20, entitled plaintiffs to the declarations they sought. The Court of Appeals affirmed, also without deciding whether the lake was a public waterway. The Supreme Court concluded the trial court correctly granted summary judgment on plaintiffs’ Article I, section 20, challenges. The Court also concluded that neither the public trust nor the public use doctrine granted plaintiffs a right to enter the swim park property and that the public use doctrine did not grant plaintiffs a right to access the water from the waterfront parks. But the Court concluded that, if Oswego Lake was among the navigable waterways that the state held in trust for the public, then neither the state nor the city could unreasonably interfere with the public’s right to enter the water from the abutting waterfront parks. Accordingly, the case was remanded for resolution of the preliminary question of whether the lake was subject to the public trust doctrine and, if the lake was subject to that trust, then for resolution of the factual dispute regarding whether the city’s restriction on entering the lake from the waterfront parks unreasonably interfered with the public’s right to enter the lake from the abutting waterfront parks. View "Kramer v. City of Lake Oswego" on Justia Law

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The Energy Facility Siting Council modified its rules that govern amending site certificates. Petitioners challenged the validity of the new rules, arguing that the council failed to comply with required rulemaking procedures and that the rules exceeded the council’s statutory authority. FAfter review of petitioners' challenges, the Oregon Supreme Court agreed with some, but not all, of those grounds and concluded that the rules were invalid. View "Friends of Columbia Gorge v. Energy Fac. Siting Coun." on Justia Law