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FACULTY DIVISION

Short video featuring Richard Garnett

Does the exclusion of a church-run education center from receiving state funding violate the Free Exercise and Equal Protection Clauses? Prof. Richard Garnett of the University of Notre Dame Law School explains the issues at stake in the upcoming Supreme Court Case of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley. Oral argument is April 19, 2017.

Administrative Law & Regulation Practice Group Podcast

How might America reform the modern administrative state—not only to limit its power, but to restore its constitutional accountability to Congress, the President, and the courts? That is the subject of a recent report by National Affairs, on policy reforms for a more accountable administrative state. In its four chapters, the report:

1. Diagnoses the fundamental problems underlying the modern administrative state, which reflect a failure of republican governance;
2. Proposes to restore Congress to its crucial constitutional role as the "First Branch" in lawmaking, policymaking, appropriations and oversight;
3. Proposes to modernize White House oversight of agency regulatory actions, primarily by shifting the Office of Information and Administration's role from one of reaction to one of action; and
4. Proposes to reform both the laws governing agency process and the laws governing judicial review of agency action, in order to improve the quality of agency actions and, relatedly, to ensure more meaningful judicial review of agency actions.

To discuss these issues and proposals, please join us for a teleforum discussion with the report’s three authors: Adam WhiteOren Cass, and Kevin Kosar

Featuring:

  • Oren Cass, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute
  • Kevin Kosar, Governance Project Director and Senior Fellow, R Street Institute
  • Adam White, Research Fellow, The Hoover Institution and Adjunct Professor, Antonin Scalia Law School
Environmental Law & Property Rights Practice Group Podcast

This spring marks the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council.  In Lucas, a 5-4 Court majority held that a state law can effect a "regulatory taking" and trigger inverse condemnation requirements if it deprives an owner of all viable uses of his land.  Join our panel to hear a discussion of questions such as: Did Lucas mark a major change in Supreme Court regulatory takings doctrine? Was the decision about right, or did it go too far or not far enough?  Is Lucas still relevant to regulatory takings law today, and what are the chances that the decision might be reconsidered or extended?  

Featuring:

  • James S. Burling, Vice President of Litigation, Pacific Legal Foundation
  • Professor Eric R. Claeys, Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School Professor 
  • Michael A. Wolf, Professor of Law, Richard E. Nelson Chair in Local Government, University of Florida Levin College of Law
SCOTUScast 4-6-17 featuring Eric Baxter

On March 27, 2017, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton, which is consolidated with Saint Peter’s Healthcare System v. Kaplan and Dignity Health v. Rollins. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) requires that employee retirement plans contain certain safeguards, but exempts “church plan[s]” from these requirements.  Under 29 U.S.C. 1002(33)(A), the term “church plan” means “a plan established and maintained… by a church or by a convention or association of churches which is exempt from tax….” After a controversy involving an Internal Revenue Service determination that the church plan exemption did not encompass pension plans established and maintained by two orders of Catholic sisters for the employees of their hospitals, Congress amended the statute to add subsection (C), which provides: “A plan established and maintained for its employees (or their beneficiaries) by a church or by a convention or association of churches includes a plan maintained by an organization, whether a civil law corporation or otherwise, the principal purpose or function of which is the administration or funding of a plan or program for the provision of retirement benefits or welfare benefits, or both, for the employees of a church or a convention or association of churches, if such organization is controlled by or associated with a church or a convention or association of churches.”

Plaintiffs in this case are a group of employees who work for Advocate Health Care Network (Advocate) and are members of Advocate’s retirement plan. Advocate is affiliated with a church, though it is not owned or financially operated by the church. Plaintiffs sued Advocate, arguing that the Advocate retirement plan is subject to ERISA, and therefore, by failing to adhere to ERISA’s requirements, Advocate has breached its fiduciary duty. Defendants moved for summary judgment, but the district court denied the motion because it determined that a plan established and maintained by a church-affiliated organization was not a church plan within the meaning of the statutory language. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed.

The question now before the Supreme Court is whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974's church-plan exemption applies so long as a pension plan is maintained by an otherwise-qualifying church-affiliated organization, or whether the exemption applies only if, in addition, a church initially established the plan.

To discuss the case, we have Eric Baxter, who is Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

SCOTUScast 4-6-17 featuring J. Devlin Hartline

On March 27, 2017, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC. TC Heartland LLC (Heartland) is organized under Indiana law and headquartered in Indiana. Kraft Food Brands LLC (Kraft) is organized under Delaware law with its principal place of business in Illinois. Kraft sued Heartland in federal district court in Delaware, alleging that products Heartland shipped to Delaware infringed on Kraft’s patents for similar products. Heartland moved to dismiss the claim, arguing that the federal court in Delaware lacked the necessary jurisdiction over Heartland’s person--i.e., “personal jurisdiction.” Alternatively, Heartland sought transfer of the case to a venue in the Southern District of Indiana. The district court denied the motion to dismiss, holding that Heartland’s contacts with Delaware were sufficient to justify the exercise of personal jurisdiction. The court also denied the request to transfer venue, citing precedent in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit indicating that, under 28 U.S.C. Secs. 1391 and 1400, venue for a corporate defendant, including in a patent infringement suit, is proper in any district in which the defendant is subject to a federal court’s personal jurisdiction.  

Heartland then sought a writ of mandamus from the Federal Circuit ordering the district court to dismiss the case or transfer venue, arguing that Heartland did not “reside” in Delaware for purposes of the patent venue statute, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1400. The Federal Circuit denied the writ, indicating that the lower court had acted properly and that Congress’ 2011 amendments to the venue statute did not provide cause to change the Federal Circuit’s prevailing interpretation of the statute.

The question now before the Supreme Court is whether the patent venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b), which provides that patent infringement actions “may be brought in the judicial district where the defendant resides[,]” is the sole and exclusive provision governing venue in patent infringement actions and is not affected by the statute governing “[v]enue generally,” 28 U.S.C. § 1391, which has long contained a subsection (c) that, where applicable, deems a corporate entity to reside in multiple judicial districts.

To discuss the case, we have J. Devlin Hartline, who is Assistant Director, Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP) and Adjunct Professor, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University.