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. Read More

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. Read More

Moose v. MacDonald
(defending Virginia’s crimes-against-nature laws)

admin Family and Life

Moose v. MacDonald involved a challenge to Virginia’s “crimes against nature” statute.  A federal district judge found that the statute violated the Fourteenth Amendment.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that this law had been invalidated by the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas.  The state of Virginia sought Supreme Court review. Read More

United States v. Edith Schlain Windsor
(defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act)

admin Family and Life

The Windsor case involved the federal Defense of Marriage Act — a federal law defining marriage as between one man and one woman for purposes of federal law.  The case also addressed the standing of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group — representing the House of Representatives — to defend that statute in federal court after the Obama administration refused to do so. Read More

Dennis Hollingsworth v. Kristin Perry
(defending California’s Proposition 8 constitutional definition of marriage)

admin Family and Life

This case involves a challenge to California Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment which defined “marriage” as between one man and one woman and was approved by a majority of voters in California. California’s government (led first by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and then by Governor Jerry Brown) refused to defend the amendment enacted directly by the people of California, and so the proponents of the amendment stepped in to defend it. Read More

Shelby County v. Eric H. Holder, Jr.
U.S. Supreme Court
(Fourteenth Amendment)
(challenging the preclearance requirement of the Voting Rights Act)

admin Election Law and Campaign Finance

CLDEF’s amicus curiae brief argued that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (“VRA”) of 1965, as amended in 2006, exceeds the powers vested in Congress by either the Fourteenth or Fifteenth Amendment, including the enforcement provisions of those amendments.  Under the 2006 amendments, the purpose of the preclearance is to “protect the ability of [minority] citizens to elect their preferred candidate of choice” and is no longer concerned with preventing voting law changes that mask racial discrimination denying or abridging the right to vote.  Further, Sections 4(b) and 5 of the VRA as amended in 2006 put Alabama on an unequal footing, in violation of the statute admitting Alabama to the union and the Tenth Amendment.  The Supreme Court held that Section 4’s coverage formula is unconstitutional in light of current conditions and can no longer be used as a basis for the preclearance requirement. Read More

James R. Clapper Jr. v. Amnesty International USA
(opposing FISA’s secret warrantless spying on U.S. citizens)

admin Searches and Seizures

This case involved a challenge, by attorneys sometimes representing foreign persons, to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Amendments of 2008, involving the government spying on U.S. citizens without a warrant.  The lower court dismissed the case, finding the plaintiffs lacked standing, but the Second Circuit reversed.  The Government sought U.S. Supreme Court review. Read More

Personhood Oklahoma v. Brittany Mays Barber
(defending proposed amendment to the Oklahoma constitution that life begins at conception)

admin Family and Life

A ballot initiative was proposed in Oklahoma to amend the state constitution to define “person” as “any human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being to natural death.”  The proposal was challenged in state court, and the Supreme Court of Oklahoma blocked the proposed initiative from going forward to the voters on the ballot.  In doing so, the state supreme court misused the Supreme Court’s decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey to deprive the people of Oklahoma of a power reserved them by the Tenth Amendment.  The proponents of the initiative filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. Read More