- Baylen Linnekin, Keep Food Legal
On March 25, 2015, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency. The case is comprised of three consolidated petitions, one from a group of 21 states, one from the trade group for electrical power plants, and one from the trade group for suppliers of coal to these plants. The Court will answer “Whether the Environmental Protection Agency unreasonably refused to consider costs in determining whether it is appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities.”
The laws of six states prohibit businesses—but not unions or other groups—from contributing to political parties, committees, or candidates. On February 24, 2015, the Goldwater Institute filed suit on behalf of two family-owned Massachusetts businesses to challenge Massachusetts’ political contribution ban. Since 1908, businesses have faced a total contribution ban, but special rules implemented in 1988 allow unions to contribute as much as $15,000 before any disclosure requirements or other contribution limits apply to the union. After unions have donated $15,000 to campaigns, their PACs can continue to contribute up to the ordinary limits. Meanwhile, business-funded PACs are banned from contributing. Does the Massachusetts law violate state and federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection, free speech, and free association?
Members of the Federalist Society’s Financial Services & E-Commerce Practice Group Executive Committee provided an update on recent important activity at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Recent developments included the results of the CFPB's arbitration study, the suspension of credit card agreement submission to the CFPB, new criticism of the CFPB's mortgage rate tool, and new payday lending rules.
On February 25, 2015 the Supreme Court heard oral argument in North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission. The question in this case is whether the state-action exemption from federal antitrust laws applies to a state dental regulatory board when the majority of board members are dental professionals who are elected by other market participants--and thus potential competitors of anyone seeking entry into the dental industry. The Federal Trade Commission denied immunity to the Board and the Fourth Circuit affirmed that ruling on appeal
By a vote of 6-3, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Fourth Circuit. Because a controlling number of the Board’s decisionmakers are active market participants in the occupation the Board regulates, the Court explained, the Board can invoke state-action antitrust immunity only if it was subject to active supervision by the State--and that supervision is lacking here.
Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court, which was joined by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion, which Justices Scalia and Thomas joined.
To discuss the case, we have Prof. Alexander “Sasha” Volokh, who is an Associate Professor of Law at the Emory University School of Law. Professor Volokh received his JD and PhD in economics from Harvard University.