On March 9, 2015, the Supreme Court decided Department of Transportation v. Association of American Railroads. The question in this case is whether the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 unconstitutionally delegates legislative power to a putatively private entity--Amtrak--by involving it in the creation of standards used to determine whether freight railroads are according the preference to Amtrak’s passenger trains that is required by federal law regarding the use of rail lines.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Kennedy, the Court held unanimously that for purposes of determining the validity of the metrics and standards issued by Amtrak, Amtrak is a governmental entity. Justices Kennedy's opinion for the Court was joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Scalia, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Justice Alito also filed a concurring opinion. Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. The judgment of the D.C. Circuit was vacated and remanded for further proceedings.
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. He regularly teaches a course on law and economics of anti-trust and has participated as an expert witness in cases involving anti-trust or before the FTC.
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 Freedom Restoration Act prohibits the federal government from requiring closely held corporations to provide contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
The National Constitution Center, the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society convene the first in a series of constitutional debates to be held across America. In the inaugural debate, Frederick Gedicks of Brigham Young University and Kevin Walsh of the University of Richmond argue for and against the motion: "Hobby Lobby was wrongly decided."
This debate was made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.
The opinions expressed in this debate are those of the participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.
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?