- Michael J. Norton, Special Counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom and former U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado
On January 13, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. The question in this case was whether, under the terms of the Truth in Lending Act, a borrower may rescind a mortgage transaction merely by notifying the lender in writing within three years of the finalization of the transaction, or must instead file a lawsuit within that same time period.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Scalia for a unanimous Court, the Court held that the borrower need only provide written notice to the lender within the three-year period, not file suit. The decision of the Eighth Circuit was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings.
To discuss the case, we have John Ohlendorf, who is an associate at the law firm Cooper & Kirk, PLLC.
Some animal rights activists have maintained for years that animals deserve many of the same basic legal rights that humans have. Though “animal personhood” might be perceived as a niche issue, the legal status of animals such as apes, dolphins, elephants and whales reaches far beyond the realm of animal rights—to the food, pharmaceutical, tourism and entertainment industries and more. Recently, animal rights supporters have begun turning to the legal system for help. In late 2013, the animal rights organization Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in New York State to establish the “legal personhood” of four chimpanzees and relocate them to outdoor sanctuaries. While intermediate appellate courts have rejected the Nonhuman Rights Project’s argument, the group has publicly stated its intention to appeal to the Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest court.
These lawsuits were the first in the United States to seek limited personhood rights for animals with advanced cognitive abilities. At the core of the lawsuits are fundamental questions about the legal status of animals. Is the concept of animal rights more about the restriction of human activity, or about truly granting rights to animals? Do current animal welfare laws provide sufficient protections to animals? Should animals have the ability to challenge their own detention, though the writ of habeas corpus?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required by the 1978 Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act to submit all proposed regulations to the federal Science Advisory Board (SAB) for peer review. However, in 2011 the EPA issued regulations establishing greenhouse gas emission and fuel efficiency standards both for cars and for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (the Car Rule and the Truck Rule) without submitting either proposed rule to the SAB. On Friday, January 9, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a consolidated case that will determine the legal remedy for these alleged violations of administrative procedure. Ted Hadzi-Antich of the Pacific Legal Foundation argued the case before the D.C. Circuit Court, and he discussed the case and the oral arguments on a live Teleforum conference call.
On December 15, 2014, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Company, LLC v. Owens. The question in this case was whether a defendant seeking removal to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction was required to include in the notice of removal evidence supporting the minimum “amount in controversy” required for diversity jurisdiction, or whether it was enough simply to allege the requisite amount in the notice of removal.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Ginsburg, the Court held by a vote of 5-4 that a defendant’s notice of removal on the basis of diversity jurisdiction need not include evidentiary submissions demonstrating that the amount in controversy requirement is met; a plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold is sufficient.
Justice Ginsburg’s opinion for the Court was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Breyer, Alito, and Sotomayor. Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion, which Justices Kennedy and Kagan joined, and which Justice Thomas joined except for the last sentence. Justice Thomas also filed a dissenting opinion. The judgment of the Tenth Circuit was vacated and the case remanded.
To discuss the case, we have Tyler Green, who is Associate Chief Counsel at the U.S. Chamber's Litigation Center.