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Recent Supreme Court Opinions
Recent Supreme Court Opinions
10 Cases Listed
Updated: July 18, 2007

Charles Wilkie, et al., v. Harvey Frank Robbins, No. 06-219
Decision Below: 438 F.3d 1074
Cert. Granted: 12/01/06

Questions Presented:

This case involves a damages action brought against officials of the Bureau of Land Management in their individual capacities based on alleged actions taken within the individuals' official regulatory responsibilities in attempting to obtain a reciprocal right-of-way across private property intermingled with public lands. The following questions are presented:

1. Whether government officials acting pursuant to their regulatory authority can be guilty under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961 et seq., of the predicate act of extortion under color of official right for attempting to obtain property for the sole benefit of the government and, if so, whether that statutory prohibition was clearly established.

2. Whether respondent's Bivens claim based on the exercise of his alleged Fifth Amendment rights is precluded by the availability of judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 701 et seq., or other statutes for the kind of administrative actions on which his claim is based.

3. Whether the Fifth Amendment protects against retaliation for exercising a "right to exclude" the government from one's property outside the eminent domain process and, if so, whether that Fifth Amendment right was clearly established.

To read Community Rights Counsel's brief click here.

Rapanos v. United States, S. Ct. No. 04-1034
Decision Below: 376 F.3d 629 (6th Cir. 2004)
Lower Court Case Number: 03-1489
Cert. Granted 10/11/05
Consolidated with 04-1384 and a total of one hour allotted for oral argument.

Question Presented:

  1. Does the Clean Water Act prohibition on unpermitted discharges to
    "navigable waters" extend to nonnavigable wetlands that do not even abut a
    navigable water?
  2. Does extension of Clean Water Act jurisdiction to every intrastate
    wetland with any sort of hydrological connection to navigable waters, no
    matter how tenuous or remote the connection, exceed Congress'
    constitutional power to regulate commerce among the states?

Click here for more information

Carabell v. Army Corps of Engineers, S. Ct. No. 04-1384
Decision Below: 391 F.3d 704 (6th Cir. 2004)
Lower Court Case Number: 03-1700
Cert. Granted 10/11/05
Consolidated with 04-1034 and a total of one hour allotted for oral argument.

Question Presented:

  1. Does the Clean Water Act extend to wetlands that are hydrologically isolated
    from any of the "waters of the United States?"
  2. Do the limits on Congress' authority to regulate interstate commerce
    preclude an interpretation of the Clean Water Act that would extend federal
    authority to wetlands that are hydrologically isolated from any of the "waters
    of the United States?"

Susette Kelo, Thelma Brelesky, Pasquale Cristofaro, Wilhelmina and Charles Dery, James and Laura Guretsky, Pataya Construction Limited Partnership, and William Von Winkle v. City of New London and New London Development Corporation, S. Ct. 04-108
Petition Filed: July 19, 2004
Cert. Granted: September 27, 2004
Opinion Issued: June 23, 2005
Lower Court Opinion: The decision of the Supreme Court of Connecticut is reported at Kelo v. City of New London, 843 A.2d 500 (Conn.2004).
Question Presented:

1. What protection does the Fifth Amendment's public use requirement provide for individuals whose property is being condemned, not to eliminate slums or blight, but for the sole purpose of "economic development" that will perhaps increase tax revenues and improve the local economy?

In January 2005, CRC filed a brief in this case:

Client: National League of Cities, National Conference of State Legislatures, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Council of State Governments, National Association of Counties, International Municipal Lawyers Association, and International City/County Management Association
Issues: Public use, eminent domain
Brief Filed: January 21, 2005

CRC's Amicus Brief (PDF)

Read a brief write-up on Kelo


San Remo Hotel L.P., Thomas Field, Robert Field, and T&R Investment Corp., v. City and County of San Francisco, Department of City Planning, City Planning Commission, Board of Permit Appeals, Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco, S. Ct. No. 04-340
Petition Filed: September 7, 2004
Cert. Granted: December 10, 2004
Opinion Issued: June 20, 2005
Lower Court Opinion: The opinion of the Ninth Circuit is reported as San Remo Hotel, L.P. v. City and County of San Francisco, 364 F.3d 1088 (9th Cir. 2004)
Questions Presented:

The City and County of San Francisco adopted an ordinance that prohibited hotels from continuing their historic, duly-licensed operation as hotels, but allowed hotel owners to avoid those restrictions by paying an exaction. Petitioners brought this action challenging the exaction based on the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit initially refused to reach the merits of the constitutional challenge, finding that petitioners were required to ripen their claim by seeking compensation in state court under Williamson County Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City. Once the claim was ripe, the Ninth Circuit again refused to reach the merits of the constitutional challenge, finding that the claim was barred by issue preclusion. In reaching that conclusion, the Ninth Circuit held that the California Supreme Courts' refusal to apply heightened scrutiny to legislative exactions under state law is consistent with federal Takings law. The questions presented are:

1. Is a Fifth Amendment Takings claim barred by issue preclusion based on a judgment denying compensation solely under state law, which was rendered in a state court proceeding that was required to ripen the federal Takings claim?

2. Is deferential scrutiny, akin to the rational basis test, appropriate for exactions imposed by legislation even though exactions imposed by administrative adjudications are subject to heightened scrutiny under Nollan v. California Coastal Commission and Dolan v. City of Tigard?

In March 2005, CRC filed a brief in this case:

Client: Community Rights Counsel, California State Association of Counties, League of California Cities, and American Planning Association
Issues: Williamson County, issue preclusion, Full Faith and Credit Act
Brief Filed: March 1, 2005

CRC's Amicus Brief (PDF)

Read a brief write-up on San Remo

Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General, et al., v. Angel McClary Raich, et al., S. Ct. No.03-1454
Opinion Issued: June 6, 2005
Question Presented:

1. Whether the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S. C. 801 et seq., exceeds Congress's power under the Commerce Clause as applied to the intrastate cultivation and possession of marijuana for purported personal "medicinal" use or to the distribution of marijuana without charge for such use.

In August 2004, CRC filed a brief in this case:
Client: Community Rights Counsel
Issues: Commerce Clause authority
Brief Filed: August 12, 2004
CRC's Amicus Brief (PDF)

  1. Brief for the Petitioners (PDF)
  2. Brief for Respondents (PDF)

Supreme Court Opinions (all are on PDF format):

  1. Majority per Justice Stevens
  2. Justice Scalia, concurring
  3. Justice O'Connor, dissenting
  4. Justice Thomas, separate dissent

Linda Lingle, Governor of the State of Hawaii, and Mark J. Bennett, Attorney General of the State of Hawaii v. Chevron USA, Inc., S. Ct. No. 04-163
Petition Filed: July 30, 2004
Cert. Granted: October 12, 2004
Opinion Issued: May 23, 2005
Lower Court Opinion: The Ninth Circuit's opinion is reported at 363 F.3d 846. The District Court's opinion is reported at 198 F.Supp.2d 1182.
Questions Presented:

1. Whether the Just Compensation Clause authorizes a court to invalidate state economic legislation on its face and enjoin enforcement of the law on the basis that the legislation does not substantially advance a legitimate state interest, without regard to whether the challenged law diminishes the economic value or usefulness of any property.

2. Whether a court, in determining under the Just Compensation Clause whether state economic legislation substantially advances a legitimate state interest, should apply a deferential standard of review equivalent to that traditionally applied to economic legislation under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, or may instead substitute its judgment for that of the legislature by determining de novo, by a preponderance of the evidence at trial, whether the legislation will be effective in achieving its goals.


Brown v. Legal Foundation of Washington, S. Ct. 01-1325
For more info on the IOLTA case, including briefs, oral argument transcript, and background information click here.

Thomas R. Phillips, Chief Justice, Nathan R. Hecht, Justice, Craig T. Enoch, Justice, Priscilla R. Owens, Justice, James A. Baker, Justice, Justice, Deborah G. Hankinson, Justice, Harriet O'Neill, Justice and Xavier Rodriguez, Justice, Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation, and Richard Tate, v. Washington Legal Foundation, William R. Summers, and Michael J. Mazzone, S. Ct. No. 02-01
Petition Filed: June 26, 2002
**(Motion for expedited consideration denied)**
Lower Court Opinion: 270 F.3d 180 (5th Cir. 2001); 86 F. Supp. 2d 617 and 86 F. Supp. 2d 624 (W.D. Tex. 2000)
On March 31, 2003, cert. was granted, the decision reversed and remanded to the 5th circuit for consideration in light of Brown v. Legal Foundation of Washington.
Questions Presented:

1. Whether the Texas Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts ("IOLTA") program "takes" private property within the meaning of the Just Compensation Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

2. Whether a claimant who has suffered no economic loss is nonetheless entitled to relief, including injunctive or declaratory relief, under the Just Compensation Clause.

3. Whether the claims against the Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court of Texas are subject to dismissal on grounds of official immunity.

Tahoe Sierra Preservation Council v. Tahoe Reg'l Planning Agency, S. Ct. No. 00-1167
Petition Filed: Jan. 18, 2001
Docketed: Jan. 19, 2001
Lower Court Ruling: 216 F.3d 764 (9th Cir. 2000)
Question Presented (as formulated by the Supreme Court):

Whether the Court of Appeals properly determined that a
temporary moratorium on land development does not constitute a taking of property requiring compensation under the Takings Clause of the United States Constitution? 

To read more about this case, click here.

(Click on the photo for a closer view)
Palazzolo v. Rhode Island, S. Ct. No. 99-2047

For briefs, oral argument transcripts, and photos, click here.
To read CRC's press statement, click here.
To read the various opinions of the Justices, click here.
For a summary and analysis of the ruling, 
click here

Del Monte Dunes
(Click on the photo for a closer view)

City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at  Monterey,

U.S. Supreme Court Rules For Developer, But Affirms Community Rights

Links to full text of opinion, case background, briefs, oral argument to full text of opinion, case background, briefs, oral argument
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