King v. Burwell
(challenging the tax credits provided to those who purchase health care through a federally established exchange)

admin Healthcare

The Affordable Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare, was designed to provide tax credits only to individuals who purchase health insurance through an “Exchange” established by a state.  These tax credits were intended to be incentives for states to create these Exchanges.  Nevertheless, many states resisted and refused to create state Exchanges.  In response, the IRS issued a rule granting that same tax credit to those individuals who purchase health insurance through Exchanges not established by a state — but by the federal government.  Suit was brought and the lower courts sustained the federal government’s position.  The U.S. Supreme Court then heard the case.

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Henderson v. United States
(opposing government confiscation of gun collections after conviction)

admin Firearms Law

Tony Henderson was a lawful firearms owner until he was convicted of a felony unrelated to his firearms.  While his trial was pending, he turned his firearms collection over to the government as a condition of bond.  After his conviction, the government would not let Henderson sell his firearms to an unrelated third party because the government claimed this would amount to unlawful “constructive possession” — even though the government physically possessed the firearms.

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Rodriguez v. United States
(opposing extended traffic stop without reason or warrant as an unlawful seizure)

admin Searches and Seizures

Rodriguez is a Fourth Amendment case involving a search and seizure after the predicate traffic stop had ended.  In this case, the police stopped a vehicle, and the officer wrote the driver a warning for momentarily veering onto the shoulder.  However, even though the stop had ended, the officer continued to talk to the occupants and asked them if they minded him searching the vehicle with his drug dog.  When the driver declined, the cop seized the car and occupants, ordering them not to move.  He then performed a dog-sniff drug search.

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Kolbe v. O’Malley
(opposing the Maryland gun law)

admin Firearms Law

A federal district judge upheld the Maryland 2013 Firearms Safety Act which bans (i) so-called “assault weapons” and (ii) so-called “large-capacity magazines” that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.  The district judge first acknowledged that the Maryland Act was an “infringement” on Second Amendment rights, but upheld the law anyway, in utter disregard of the Second Amendment text commanding that those rights “shall not be infringed.”

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Rudy v. Lee
(challenging the validity of laws enacted by a person ineligible to be President)

admin Other Constitutional Cases

Mr. Rudy is a patent lawyer who was challenging the patent application fee increases based on the ineligibility of Barack Obama to enact laws as President of the United States.  The courts below ruled that whether Obama qualified to be President of the United States was a political question that cannot be entertained by the judicial system, having been given by the Constitution to Congress to determine.

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Heien v. North Carolina
(opposing warrantless stop and search based on police mistake of law)

admin Searches and Seizures

Heien is a Fourth Amendment case involving a traffic stop for something that the officer incorrectly believed was a crime.  Although the car should not have been stopped, the North Carolina courts upheld the police’s seizure of the car’s passenger’s illegal property because the police’s mistake in stopping the car was “reasonable.”  Heien sought U.S. Supreme Court review, and CLDEF submitted an amicus curiae brief in support of his position.  CLDEF’s brief critiqued the use of the “reasonable expectation of privacy” test that has been routinely used by federal courts to justify intrusions of liberty through a multitude of subjective shades of grey.  Instead, armed with an understanding that the Fourth Amendment protects property rights, the inquiry becomes objectively black and white — whether the government does or does not have a superior property interest in the person and/or vehicle it wishes to detain.  Viewed in that light, the police had no right to stop someone who had violated no law, regardless of how “reasonable” an officer’s mistake may seem to a court.

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United States v. Wurie
(opposing warrantless searches of cell phone pursuant to a lawful arrest)

admin Searches and Seizures

Wurie was a Fourth Amendment case involving the warrantless search of a cellular phone pursuant to an arrest.  The government argued that, any time it makes an arrest, it has the right to search a person’s cell phone without a warrant as a matter of course, “incidental” to the arrest.  Wurie was convicted based upon information found in the search, and he sought U.S. Supreme Court review.

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Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus
(opposing the Ohio “ministry of truth” for political speech)

admin First Amendment

This was a First Amendment case involving an Ohio law giving the Ohio Election Commission the power to “proclaim” the alleged truth or falsity of statements during political campaigns.  Taking a page out of Orwell’s novel 1984, and dubbed the “Ministry of Truth” by its critics, the law permits the government to decide what can and cannot be said about it.  CLDEF’s brief argued that in the United States the people — not the government — are sovereign, and the government has no power whatsoever to decide truth and falsity.  Indeed, Thomas Jefferson declared that “the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction.”  This case resulted in a successful outcome in the Supreme Court, and on remand, the district court struck down the Ohio statute.

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Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius
(challenging the Obamacare abortifacient mandate)

admin Healthcare

As the federal government uses the term, the term “contraceptive” no longer describes ways to prevent conception.  Rather, the term now includes terminating a pregnancy after conception occurs.  Thus, many of what are now called “contraceptives” are really abortifacients — drugs and devices that induce a miscarriage and the death of the embryo in the womb.  Under rules adopted after the enactment of Obamacare, the federal government seeks to require all employers providing group health insurance to provide these abortifacients, calling them contraceptives.

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Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius
(consolidated with Hobby Lobby v. Burwell)
(opposing the Obamacare abortifacient/birth control mandate)

admin First Amendment

The Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, requires that certain employers provide health care to their employees, which includes birth control, including abortifacients, regardless of the beliefs of the employer.  CLDEF’s amicus curiae brief argued that this requirement violates the Free Exercise Clause in that the Obamacare mandate is not a bona fide public health measure within the jurisdiction of the State, but a proselytizing measure promoting at taxpayers’ expense a promiscuous sexual lifestyle.

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Quinn v. Texas
(opposing government use of “no knock” raids based on gun ownership)

admin Firearms Law

The Quinn case involves both the Second and Fourth Amendments, relating to a no-knock raid by the police.  Police executed a warrant to search John Quinn’s home, looking for drugs owned by his son who lived there.  Rather than honor the age-old practice of knocking on the door and announcing themselves, the police battered down Quinn’s door, shooting him when he understandably reached for his handgun to defend himself from what he thought was a burglary.  The police justified the no-knock raid solely because they believed that Quinn owned firearms.

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Christopher Hedges v. Barack Obama
(challenging the unconstitutional detention of U.S. citizens authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012)

admin First Amendment, Other Constitutional Cases

This case involved a challenge to Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (“NDAA”), which authorized military detention of civilians based on vague standards of providing “support” for an adversary of the United States, similar to the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II.  Journalist Christopher Hedges and a group of journalists and lawyers brought this challenge to the NDAA.

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United States v. Castleman
(opposing unreasonable application of Lautenberg Amendment)

admin Firearms Law

This case arises under the so-called Lautenburg Amendment of 1997, amending the Gun Control Act of 1968.  The government argued for an expansive definition of what constitutes a Misdemeanor Crime of Domestic Violence, under which a person who engages in offensive touching, pushing, or even spitting in the context of a domestic relationship meets the federal requirement of “physical force.”  The penalty for such an act is a lifetime ban on firearms ownership, and even innocent efforts to purchase or possess a firearm can result in the person becoming a felon.

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Abramski v. United States
(defending right of former police officer to buy gun for elderly uncle)

admin Firearms Law

Abramski is a Second Amendment case challenging ATF’s use of its “straw purchase” doctrine to convict one eligible person who bought a firearm for another eligible person.  When buying a gun, a person is asked on the ATF Form 4473 if he is the “actual buyer,” even though federal law only requires him to be the “transferee.”  Congress never actually criminalized “straw purchases,” and it is not up to ATF or the courts to create new crimes in order to fill in the perceived blanks.  The government argued that the gun dealer was “required” to keep information about the “actual buyer,” but federal law requires him to keep only the identity of the “transferee” — the person physically present to obtain the firearm.

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NLRB v. Canning
(opposing Obama’s broad recess appointment power)

admin Other Constitutional Cases

Barack Obama made several recess appointments between Senate pro forma sessions, purporting to following Article II, Section 2, Clause 3, the Recess Appointments Clause.  A challenge was brought against an action by the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) against an employer who alleged that the NLRB action was invalid due to a lack of quorum because a majority of the Board members had received recess appointments.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed with the employer, and the NLRB sought review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Cotterman v. United States
(opposing border exception to the Fourth Amendment)

admin Searches and Seizures

Cotterman was a Fourth Amendment case about whether the federal government can seize a laptop at a border checkpoint and copy the contents without a warrant, probable cause, or even reasonable suspicion.  Cotterman was convicted based on such a search, and he sought review by the U.S. Supreme Court.  CLDEF’s amicus curiae brief, in support of the petitioner, argued that the case should not be analyzed based on non-textual “reasonable expectation of privacy” standards, but instead involved a “general search” absolutely prohibited by the Fourth Amendment.  This would be no different than if the government seized a person’s firearms and copied down the serial numbers as part of a general search to see if they were stolen.  CLDEF’s effort in this case continues to press for a revitalized Fourth Amendment principle to protect property, not just some watered-down notion of a reasonable expectation of privacy — an expectation which is rapidly shrinking in the digital age.

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