Clean Power Plan Litigation Update

Environmental Law & Property Rights Practice Group Teleforum Wednesday, August 31, 02:00 PMFederalist Society Teleforum Conference Call

On Tuesday, September 27, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, the case that will determine the fate of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. If enacted, the Clean Power Plan would set a national limit for carbon emissions, and require each state to reduce its own output and meet state-specific standards. In February, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to stay the Clean Power regulations while the case was pending in the D.C. Court. Twenty-four states, and various energy producers, have joined the suit against the federal government. Does the EPA have the authority to regulate a state’s carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act? Elbert Lin, the Solicitor General of West Virginia, will join us to discuss the arguments as briefed in this highly important case.


  • Mr. Elbert Lin, Solicitor General, State of West Virginia

The Constitutionality of Independent Agencies: The CFPB - Podcast

Litigation Practice Group Podcast
Peter Conti-Brown, Gregory F. Jacob August 25, 2016

In April, the mortgage lender PHH Corporation challenged the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) after being ordered by the CFPB to disgorge $109 million. PHH challenged the bureau’s legitimacy under Article II, and cited Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board as relevant precedent, because PCA officers could be removed for cause, and then, only by officers of the SEC. Meanwhile, the CFPB cited Humphrey’s Executor v. United States, in which the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which allowed the president to remove an FTC commissioner only for cause. Here to discuss the CFPB and the constitutionality of other independent agencies like it are Professor Peter Conti-Brown of The Wharton School and Gregory Jacob, partner at O'Melveny & Myers LLP.


  • Mr. Peter Conti-Brown, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, The Wharton School
  • Mr. Gregory F. Jacob, Gregory F. Jacob Partner, O'Melveny & Myers LLP

Title IX & Transgender Bathrooms in Public Schools

Short video featuring Roger Severino
Roger Severino August 05, 2016

Roger Severino oversees the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, where he focuses on religious liberty, marriage, and life issues. In this video, Severino comments on a joint guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education on how schools should apply Title IX to the bathroom choices of transgender students.

United States v. Texas - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 7-12-16 featuring Josh Blackman
Josh Blackman July 12, 2016

On June 23, 2016, the Supreme Court decided United States v. Texas. This case relates back to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which set forth special criteria to direct how DHS should exercise prosecutorial discretion in enforcing federal immigration laws against certain young persons. In 2014, DHS issued a memo that then expanded eligibility under DACA and directed establishment of a similar program for the parents of DACA-eligible persons: Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).

Twenty-six states sued in federal district court to prevent the DHS from implementing DAPA, arguing that DAPA violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because it had not gone through a notice-and-comment process, and was moreover arbitrary and capricious. The states also argued that DAPA abrogated the President’s constitutional duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” The district court concluded that of the suing states, Texas had standing, and temporarily enjoined implementation of DAPA after determining that Texas had shown a substantial likelihood of success on its notice-and-comment claim. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed that ruling, and further held that the other states had standing and has shown a substantial likelihood of success on both the notice-and-comment and arbitrary and capricious components of their APA claims. The Fifth Circuit did not reach the Take Care clause claim.

The four questions before the Supreme Court in this case were: (1) whether a state that voluntarily provides a subsidy to all aliens with deferred action has Article III standing and a justiciable cause of action under the APA to challenge the Secretary of Homeland Security’s guidance seeking to establish a process for considering deferred action for certain aliens because it will lead to more aliens having deferred action; (2) whether the guidance is arbitrary and capricious or otherwise not in accordance with law; (3) whether the guidance was subject to the APA’s notice-and-comment procedures; and (4) whether the guidance violates the Take Care Clause of the Constitution, Article II, section 3--a question the Court itself directed the parties to brief.

An equally divided Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Fifth Circuit in a single sentence per curiam opinion, thereby leaving the district court’s injunction in place

To discuss the case, we have Josh Blackman, who is Assistant Professor of Law at South Texas College of Law.