Findlaw Case Summaries: Constitutional Law 18

To view the full-text of cases you must sign in to All summaries are produced by Findlaw.

May 25-29, 2009.

U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, May 27, 2009 Pyke v. Cuomo, No. 07-0334 District court’s grant of summary judgment to defendants on plaintiffs’ claim that defendants’ response to a period of violent unrest on an Indian reservation violated their equal protection rights is affirmed where: 1) plaintiffs failed to show that defendants’ actions constituted an express racial classification; and 2) plaintiffs failed to provide sufficient evidence of racially discriminatory intent and impact.

U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, May 29, 2009 Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Co. v. Bridgeport Port Auth., No. 08-3886 District court judgment declaring a fee imposed on ferry passengers unconstitutional and enjoining collection of the fee until revised is affirmed where: 1) the existing fee violated the Commerce Clause as defendant failed to show that using a portion of the passenger fees to pay for services was based on a fair approximation of the ferry passengers’ use; and 2) the fee violated the Tonnage Clause as it was used for the impermissible purpose of raising general revenues and for projects which did not benefit the ferry passengers.

U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, May 28, 2009 Am. Atheists, Inc. v. Detroit, No. 07-2398 In an Establishment Clause challenge to a city’s building refurbishment program in which religious organizations were allowed to participate, judgment for Plaintiff is reversed, where the program allocated generally available benefits on a neutral basis and without a hidden agenda, and thus did not have the effect of advancing religion.

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, May 28, 2009 Nat’l Assoc. of Optometrists & Opticians v. Brown, No. 07-15050 In a dormant Commerce Clause challenge to state laws preventing opticians from having specified business relationships with or offering services in the same locations as licensed optometrists and ophthalmologists, summary judgment for Plaintiffs is reversed where the laws did not discriminate between similarly situated medical professionals.

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, May 29, 2009 Tibbetts v. Kulongoski, No. 07-36067 In a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action alleging that Defendant-Governor violated the Due Process Clause by making negative statements about former insurance fund employee-Plaintiffs, the denial of qualified immunity to Defendant is reversed where there was no temporal nexus between Defendant’s statements and Plaintiffs’ termination.

U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, May 27, 2009 Dias v. Denver, No. 08-1132 In a Due Process challenge to an ordinance banning pit bulls, the dismissal of the complaint is affirmed in part, where Plaintiffs lacked standing to seek prospective relief because they did not show a credible threat of future prosecution, but reversed in part, where Plaintiffs plausibly alleged that the pit bull ban was not rationally related to a legitimate government interest.

U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, May 29, 2009 Corder v. Lewis Palmer Sch. Dist. No. 38, No. 08-1293 In a First Amendment challenge to Defendant school district’s discipline of Plaintiff based on religious-themed remarks she made in a graduation speech, judgment on the pleadings for Defendant is affirmed, where the action was moot because Plaintiff graduated from high school and was unlikely to be subjected to further discipline.

Supreme Court of California, May 26, 2009 Strauss v. Horton , No. S168047 California’s Proposition 8, the initiative measure changing the official designation of the term “marriage” for the union of opposite-sex couples, constitutes a permissible change to the California Constitution, as Prop. 8: 1) is a constitutional amendment and not a constitutional revision; 2) does not violate the separation of powers doctrine; and 3) is not invalid under the “inalienable rights” theory proffered by the Attorney General. Prop. 8 and the new section in the Constitution cannot properly be interpreted to apply retroactively, and therefore the marriages of same-sex couples performed prior to the effective date of Prop. 8 remain valid and must continue to be recognized in the state.

Supreme Court of Delaware, May 29, 2009 In re Request of the Governor for an Advisory Opinion , No. No. 150, 2009 In an advisory opinion on whether Delaware’s proposed sports lottery constitutes a permissible lottery under Article II, Section 17 of the Delaware Constitution, the Delaware Supreme Court advised that the proposed sport lottery satisfies the State control requirement of Article II, Section 17 and does not impermissibly delegate legislative authority to the Lottery Director. In addition, the Delaware Constitution allows lotteries to involve an element of skill but only where chance predominates, and thus the Lottery Director’s designed games must assure that chance is the predominant factor.

Contact Information