Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.

In a civil rights decision, the United States Supreme Court upheld disparate impact claims are recognized under the Fair Housing Act.

The issue the court considered is whether, under a proper interpretation of the FHA, housing decisions with a disparate impact are prohibited.1 Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 576 U. S. ____, ____(2015) (slip op. at 7). In a 5-4 decision, the Court held disparate impact claims are permitted under the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

Low Income Tax Credits

The federal government provides tax credits for low income housing.2 26 U. S. C. §42.  Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 576 U. S. ____, ____(2015) (slip op. at 2).   Each state must develop criteria in order to disburse the credits, but the some of the criteria must include requirements set by Congress. “Federal law thus favors the distribution of these tax credits for the development of housing units in low-income areas.”3 Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 576 U. S. ____, ____(2015) (slip op. at 2).

Continue reading Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.

References   [ + ]

1. Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 576 U. S. ____, ____(2015) (slip op. at 7).
2. 26 U. S. C. §42.  Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 576 U. S. ____, ____(2015) (slip op. at 2).
3. Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 576 U. S. ____, ____(2015) (slip op. at 2).

Obergefell v. Hodges — Equal Protection Same-Sex Marriage

In a historic civil rights ruling, the United States Supreme Court held both the due process and  equal protection clauses apply to same-sex marriages, and the United States Constitution requires states to treat same-sex marriages the same as traditional marriages between a man and a woman.

The Court in a 5-4 ruling held the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires states to: 1. license marriages of same-sex couples; and 2. recognize marriages of same sex couples obtained in other states.

The Court combined several cases with shared issues together in this one decision.  Joined are cases from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.

Maricopa County Clerk of Court - Photo Taken by AzCommonLaw
Maricopa County Clerk of Court – Photo Taken by AzCommonLaw

Continue reading Obergefell v. Hodges — Equal Protection Same-Sex Marriage

ICANN Possibly Removing Privacy Protection

ICANN is considering a rule where domain holders with sites associated to “commercial activity” will no longer be able to use privacy protection techniques.

The protection of private information for websites with commercial activity is just one of many issues Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) looking at.  However, it seems to be the issue that is getting the most traction, and the issue that would affect this website and countless other websites across the internet.

“Your privacy provider could be forced to publish your contact data in WHOIS or give it out to anyone who complains about your website, without due process. Why should a small business owner have to publicize her home address just to have a website?”1 Email newsletter from NameCheap.com (June 22, 2015) (on file with AzCommonLaw). According to NameCheap.com, a ICANN accredited domain registrar (a fancy way of saying they are an official domain registrar).

Arizona Common Law Seal Continue reading ICANN Possibly Removing Privacy Protection

References   [ + ]

1. Email newsletter from NameCheap.com (June 22, 2015) (on file with AzCommonLaw).

License Plate Design, Government Speech

Governments can speak too, and the United States Supreme Court held last week that a specialty license plate design falls under the category of government speech and governments can speak for themselves.

Usually, free speech is not thought about in terms of the government.  But when government speaks, it is not barred by the Free Speech Clause from determining the content of what it says.  The government is free to promote an idea, or take a position.1 Walker v. Texas Div., Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc., 576 U. S. ____, ____ (2015) (slip op. at 5).

Texas Specialty License Plates
Texas Specialty License Plates

Continue reading License Plate Design, Government Speech

References   [ + ]

1. Walker v. Texas Div., Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc., 576 U. S. ____, ____ (2015) (slip op. at 5).

Reed v. Town of Gilbert Decision

Gilbert Arizona’s quirky sign laws which creates different categories of signs, with different privileges, is unconstitutional ruled the United States Supreme Court today.

A unanimous Supreme Court found the Town of Gilbert’s (Town) sign laws unconstitutionally restricting Good News Community Church’s (Church) right to free speech.  The Court thoroughly explained what constitutes content based restrictions on speech, and debunked each of the court of appeals arguments in reversing its decision.

Continue reading Reed v. Town of Gilbert Decision

Libel and .Sucks Domains

There is a new general top level domain name on the internet — .sucks.  This is a brand new domain that will be available for the general public to purchase and use starting in mid-June 2015.

Individuals will then be free to kvetch about anything that sucks or pre-emtpively register the domain, so others will not have access to yourname.sucks or yourcompany.sucks.

I hope that http://papercuts.sucks is still available to the general public, when the domain becomes available, because paper cuts  are excruciatingly painful.  And I, for one, would love to hate on the dreaded paper cut.

But it is quite possible many new .sucks websites will not be so benign as to target paper cuts.  Potential websites could target people, companies, ideologies, etc.  Possibly creating issues of defamation / libel and free speech issues.

 

.sucks domain Continue reading Libel and .Sucks Domains

Thalheimer v. Board of Supervisors of Maricopa County, 11 Ariz. 430

 What powers the Territory had when functioning since its creation until statehood, is important to understand when considering the common law of Arizona.

The Arizona Territorial Supreme Court was presented with the issue whether Maricopa County could by popular referendum prohibit the sale of alcohol.

Plaintiff argued that the Territorial Legislature had the power to restrict alcohol, but the county did not have that authority.  “[T]here is a distinction between a state legislature, vested with the power by the people of the state, and the legislature of a territory, vested with the power by Congress.”1 Thalheimer v. Board of Supervisors of Maricopa County, 11 Ariz. 430, 433 (1908). The argument continues territories act as an agent of Congress, and are not available to pass that power along, even to local matters.

Continue reading Thalheimer v. Board of Supervisors of Maricopa County, 11 Ariz. 430

References   [ + ]

1. Thalheimer v. Board of Supervisors of Maricopa County, 11 Ariz. 430, 433 (1908).

Gardner v. State of Arizona, 15 Ariz. 403

The origins of Arizona’s libel law can be traced back to its territorial days.1 See Ariz. Rev. Stats. 1901 chap. X § 220 libel.   However, there has been a paradigm shift with how libel is treated by the state.

During the territorial early statehood period libel was treated as a criminal offense.  Arizona did with some regularity imprison individuals for libel.  But eventually society’s view of the state’s interest would change from criminal to civil interest.  “The legitimate state interest underlying the law of libel is the compensation of individuals for the harm inflicted on them by defamatory falsehood. We would not lightly require the State to abandon this purpose.” 2 Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 US 323, 341 (1974). Arizona’s interest is making sure individual’s can be compensated for any harm to their reputation.

An interesting characteristic Gardner, is how innuendo was interpreted more than 100 years ago.  The said a reasonable person standard would be used with a plain meaning of the text to determine if the words are actionable.  The court said back then this was a question for the jury to determine, and likely today, it would also be a question for the fact-finder or jury to determine.

For those interested in early Arizona defamation law, this is an interesting case to read as some of the legal principles discussed int his case are still used today.

Continue reading Gardner v. State of Arizona, 15 Ariz. 403

References   [ + ]

1. See Ariz. Rev. Stats. 1901 chap. X § 220 libel.
2. Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 US 323, 341 (1974).

Article – Deregulation of Marijuana

The status of marijuana is confusing.  Mixed messages are being sent in states that either have decriminalized or legalized the drug in some capacity because federal law prohibits it entirely.  Here in Arizona, the state has legalized medical marijuana under stringent regulations.

In states where marijuana is decriminalized or legalized, prosecutors are then put in a difficult position trying to decide whether to follow federal law or state law.  To add further pressure the state law is often times passed as a referendum by the people of the state, the same people who elect the prosecutors.  For example Arizona voters in 2010 approved Proposition 203, legalizing medical marijuana in the state, by just more than 50% of the vote.

In a marijuana themed debate in April 2015, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, said to an unidentified proponent of medical marijuana that:  “You’re violating the law and I have no respect for you as someone who would try to claim that you served this country and took an oath to uphold the Constitution and defend it against all enemies foreign and domestic because you’re an enemy.”

This exchange just illustrates how divisive the issue can be, and how complicated the legal issue of marijuana has become for states that have legalized or decriminalized it.

Continue reading Article – Deregulation of Marijuana

City and County of San Francisco California v. Sheehan

The United States Supreme Court just announced a widely anticipated case on how the police interacted with a mentally ill woman.

The writ of certiorari presented two questions for the Supreme Court to consider: 1. Whether the the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires law enforcement officers to provide accommodations to an armed, violent and mentally ill suspect when attempting to take that suspect into custody? 2. Did the officers violate a clearly established right under the Fourth Amendment when they forced entry into Sheehan’s room the second time?

Phoenix Police Officer on Motorcycle - Photo Taken by AzCommonLaw
Phoenix Police Officer on Motorcycle – Photo Taken by AzCommonLaw

Continue reading City and County of San Francisco California v. Sheehan