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Courthouse Steps: Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer - Podcast

Religious Liberties Practice Group Podcast
Ilya Shapiro, Hannah C. Smith April 21, 2017

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) denied a Learning Center run by Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. (Trinity) federal funding to refurbish children’s playgrounds on the grounds of religious affiliation. The DNR offers Playground Scrap Tire Surface Material Grants to organizations that qualify for resurfacing of playgrounds. Though the licensed pre- school Learning Center incorporates religious instruction into is curriculum, the school is open to all children. Trinity’s Learning Center was denied funding based on Article I, Section 7 of the Missouri Constitution; the section reads: “no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, section or denomination of religion.”

Trinity claimed that the DNR infringed upon their rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the First Amendment’s protections of freedom of religion and speech. The district court dismissed Trinity’s allegations, claiming that Trinity failed to file a specific claim. Trinity responded by amending its complaint to an allegation that other religious institutions had previously received the DNR funding; nevertheless, the district court denied the motions. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court decision, agreeing with both the dismissal and denial of motions.

The question at the heart of the case is whether or not the First Amendment’s free exercise of religion and the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause protect religious institutions from discrimination regarding the distribution of public funds. Ilya Shapiro of the CATO Institute and Hannah C. Smith of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty joined us after oral arguments to discuss the case and the potential weight of the precedent set by decision. 

Featuring:

  • Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, Cato Institute
  • Hannah C. Smith, Senior Counsel, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Update - April 2017 - Podcast

Financial Services & E-Commerce Practice Group Podcast
Wayne A. Abernathy, Julius L. Loeser April 19, 2017

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). The call will cover many interesting topics including an update of PHH’s D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals case against the CFPB, a recent Executive Order which appears to apply to the CFPB, congressional activity regarding the CFPB, the CFPB’s recent fines and other actions, and the CFPB’s (and Federal Reserve Board’s) Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit report entitled “The CFPB Can Strengthen Contract Award Controls and Administrative Processes.” 

Featuring:

  • Hon. Wayne A. Abernathy, Executive VP for Financial Institutions Policy and Regulatory Affairs, American Bankers Association
  • Julius L. Loeser, Of Counsel, Winston & Strawn LLP

Telecommunications Law in the New Administration - Podcast

Telecommunications & Electronic Media Practice Group Podcast
Nicholas Degani, Patricia J. Paoletta, Bryan N. Tramont April 18, 2017

In late March, Congress used the Congressional Review Act to reverse the FCC’s controversial Broadband ISP Privacy Order. The FCC had overwritten the FTC’s prior regulation of ISP privacy, after President Obama took to YouTube following the 2014 mid-term elections, to call for the regulation of ISPs as common carriers,  under a framework dating from the monopoly provision of telephone service. 

The current FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai has announced he aims to deregulate, focused on removing outdated regulations to encourage investment and innovation. Pai’s Digital Empowerment Agenda sees competitive broadband networks as engines of economic growth.  Observers expect the underlying decision from the Obama era to regulate ISPs as common carriers – aka Open Internet or Net Neutrality – to be re-considered soon. The Chairman has also proposed revising broadcast ownership rules to reflect today’s more diverse media landscape, and repurposing spectrum to facilitate the next generation of mobile broadband and Internet of Things. Maximizing access to spectrum for “5G” broadband and IoT will require repurposing some federal spectrum, so the President’s federal spectrum manager at Commerce (NTIA) will play a critical role.

In our third segment of the Legal Options for the New Administration Teleforum Series, Bryan Tramont, Chair of the Federalist Society Telecommunications Executive Committee, moderated a discussion with Chairman Ajit Pai’s Senior Counsel, Nick Degani, and Patricia Paoletta, a telecom partner at the law firm of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP. 

Featuring:

  • Nicholas Degani, Senior Counsel to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai; formerly Wireline Legal Advisor to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai
  • Patricia Paoletta, Partner at Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP, named by the Trump-Pence Transition Team to the FCC Landing Team
  • Moderator: Bryan Tramont, Managing Partner of Wilkinson, Barker & Knauer, former FCC Chief of Staff; Chair of the Federalist Society Telecommunications Executive Committee

Kokesh v. SEC

Short video featuring Rachel Paulose
Rachel Kunjummen Paulose April 17, 2017

Is the SEC limited to five years if it wants to make a criminal defendant pay back money obtained illegally? Rachel Paulose, partner at DLA Piper, explains the dispute in Kokesh v. SEC. Charles Kokesh claims that a five-year statute of limitations applies, while the Securities and Exchange Commission maintains that illegally obtained money should be paid back regardless of how much time has passed. SCOTUS oral argument is April 18, 2017.

Litigation Update: Davis v. Guam - Podcast

Litigation Practice Group Podcast
J. Christian Adams April 13, 2017

On March 8, Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood of the District Court of Guam struck down a Guam law that permitted only those who meet the definition of “Native Inhabitants of Guam” to vote in a future status plebiscite. This decision has been met with opposition from elected officials, protests at the federal courthouse, public rallies, and now an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Supporters of the plebiscite are forcing a reexamination of the role of the United States on this strategically important island and opponents contend they are doing so without giving all citizens a voice in the process. What did the district court decide, and what does the reaction say about the rule of law and respect for the Constitution?  Christian Adams joined us to discuss the latest in Davis v. Guam.

Featuring:

  • J. Christian Adams, Election Lawyer Center