Pavan v. Smith

A state cannot refuse to list two same sex spouses as the two parents on their child’s birth certificate.  Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) 135 S.Ct. 2584 prohibits states from denying same sex couples the rights, benefits and responsibilities of marriage allowed to opposite sex couples.  This decision holds that the decision bars Arkansas from refusing…

Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer

A state violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause by denying church schools subsidies provided other schools for playground improvements.  Denying a generally available government benefit based solely on the recipient’s religion violates the First Amendment by imposing a penalty on the free exercise of religion.  Such a policy or statute may be justified only under…

Brewster v. Beck

A California Vehicle code section requiring police to impound a car for 30 days when it is driven by an unlicensed driver is an unconstitutional seizure violating the Fourth Amendment since there is no justification for retaining the car after a licensed owner claims it.  This decision holds that California Vehicle Code 14602.6(a)(1) is unconstitutional…

Packingham v. North Carolina

State statute violated the First Amendment by forbidding registered sex offenders from accessing websites if the site allows minors to be members, because the prohibition was not sufficiently narrowly tailored to the state’s interest in protecting minors.  This decision strikes down a North Carolina statute that makes it a felony for a registered sex offender…

Matal v. Tam

The prohibition on trademarking offensive or disparaging marks—here, an Asian dance rock band called “The Slants”—violated the First Amendment, since the prohibition serves no substantial governmental interest and is not narrowly drawn.  The Lanham Act’s anti-disparagement provision which bars registration of trademarks that disparage persons, institutions, beliefs or national symbols violates the First Amendment.  A…

Park v. Board of Trustees of the California State University

A discrimination suit challenging a tenure decision is not subject to an Anti-SLAPP motion to strike even if the decision followed a public hearing and statements made at the hearing are used as evidence of bias.  A suit is not subject to an Anti-SLAPP motion to strike simply because it attacks a decision reached or…

Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman

New York statute forbidding retail sellers from charging higher-than-stated prices to customers who pay with credit cards must satisfy the First Amendment test for regulations of commercial speech.  As interpreted by the Court of Appeals, New York’s General Business Law section 518 forbids retail sellers from stating one cash price for their goods or services…

Puri v. Khalsa

Lawsuit over whether plaintiffs were wrongly excluded from board member positions in nonprofit religious corporations that controlled a religious organization, was not barred under the ministerial exception since plaintiffs’ claims would not interfere with a religion’s freedom to choose its own ministers.  The ministerial exception, which the 9th Circuit has held applies to any claim…

Fowler Packing Co., Inc. v. Lanier

The Legislature violated two employers’ right to equal protection by carving them out of an exemption it granted all other employers from retroactive liability for certain minimum wage violations; avoiding the United Farmworkers Union’s opposition to the legislation was not a rational basis for treating the two employers differently.  Responding to recent appellate decisions that…

Parisi v. Mazzaferro

Civil harassment injunction which barred defendant from writing defamatory letters about plaintiff did not violate defendant’s First Amendment rights, but the trial court’s order needed to clarify that defendant was allowed to conduct bona fide petitioning activity in letters to governmental officials about plaintiff.  The trial court did not impermissibly infringe on defendant’s First Amendment…

Welch v. Brown

State statutes prohibiting licensed mental health providers from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with minors do not abridge the religious freedom of either therapists or the minors in their care.  Bus. & Prof. Code 865, 865.1 and 865.2 prohibit state licensed mental health providers from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with minors while…

Property Reserve, Inc. v. Superior Court

The Eminent Domain Law’s procedure for allowing condemning authorities to perform pre-condemnation testing of property meets state and federal constitutional requirements so long as it is reformed to allow jury determination of the property owner’s damages from the testing.  Code of Civil Procedure 1245.010 et seq. set out a procedure for condemning entities to apply…