Laramie, WY 82071
- Nick Dranias, Goldwater Institute
- Professor Jason Robison, Wyoming Law
Controversies over jurisdiction and management of public lands are building. Whether grazing rights disputes in Nevada or New Mexico, alarm over federal disinterest in long recognized local partnerships for management of multi-use lands, BLM review of millions of acres to balance factors like environmental justice, and complaints of forest maintenance hazards, states are increasingly concerned. Western states contend that return of public lands to state control would generate a North Dakota-like renaissance of jobs, access to resources, and economic activity. Several Western states are investigating the legal basis for challenging federal retention of these public multi-use lands as described in state charter enabling acts. The state of Utah now has statutory authority to sue the federal government for return of its lands in January, 2015. How sound is the legal case, and what are the economic implications for the Western states -- as well as the country in general? What are the environmental policy issues and is state stewardship of these lands best?
In recent years, many state and local governments have encountered severe fiscal problems, partly because of the recession and financial crisis, and partly because of long-term pension and other obligations that outstrip revenue. This raises a number of important policy and legal questions, such as the extent to which it is desirable for federal and state governments to "bail out" fiscally troubled jurisdictions, and whether or not such governments can default on any of their obligations. If state or local governments become more dependent on federal funding, that may also have implications for the long-term future of American federalism. Our panelists, Prof. Sanford Levinson and Prof. David Skeel considered these issues.
The Supreme Court’s decision last Term in Missouri v. McNeely is an important one for judges and attorneys involved in criminal matters in state courts. In McNeely, the Court decided that the exigency exception to the warrant requirement does not always apply to the taking of blood from the driver to determine his or her blood-alcohol level, even though alcohol dissipates in the blood over time. In this Teleforum, we examined the implications of the McNeely decision, including whether any of the other exceptions to the warrant requirement apply, its implications for state-court judges and practitioners, and how McNeely fits within the framework of other recent Fourth Amendment decisions of the Supreme Court.
Recently U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, citing the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in United States v. Windsor, urged the members of the National Association of Attorneys General to exercise their discretion to decline to defend state-level Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMA). State attorneys general of California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, among others, have followed the Justice Department's lead in declining to defend such state laws. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers urged state attorneys general not to employ a "litigation veto" to nullify popularly enacted laws with which state attorneys general might disagree. What is the scope of a state attorney general's power to decline to execute or enforce state law on the basis that the law is or is thought to be unconstitutional and inconsistent with the oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution? What lessons, if any, may properly be drawn from the federal context and any Presidential authority to decline to enforce federal statutes that he views as unconstitutional? Do such instances of executive non-defense and non-enforcement amount to executive arrogation of legislative prerogative? Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and William & Mary Professor Neal Devins discussed these questions and engaged with the audience's comments and questions.