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History and Recent Developments in Same-Sex Marriage Litigation

State Courts Project White Paper
Austin R. Nimocks May 28, 2014

The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive national survey of recent cases regarding same-sex marriage laws. The cases span over half the states and are being litigated in both federal and state courts. We hope this paper serves as a useful reference and guide to any questions you may have about the legal landscape of same-sex marriage.....[Read Now!]

2013 Civil Justice Update: Recently Enacted State Reforms and Judicial Challenges

State Courts White Paper
Andrew C. Cook March 10, 2014

2013 Civil Justice Update: Recently Enacted State Reforms and Judicial ChallengesThe purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive national survey of both recent court decisions ruling on challenges to existing civil justice laws and the newly enacted civil justice reforms. This paper has two main parts: Part I describes state and federal court rulings in 2013 and Part II describes legislation passed during the year’s legislative session....[Read Now!]

Overprotecting Public Employee Pensions: The Contract Clause and the California Rule

White Paper
Alexander Volokh December 31, 2013

Overprotecting Public Employee Pensions:  The Contract Clause and the California RuleThe Contract Clause, which prohibits states from making laws impairing the obligation of contracts, is commonly used to challenge state and local public pension reform efforts. Courts in California, and in other states following California’s example, follow a particularly strict rule: they hold not only that public employees are entitled to the pension they’ve accrued by their work so far, but also that they’re entitled to keep earning a pension (as long they continue in their job) according to rules that are at least as generous. Thus, in states where the California rule applies, one can’t constitutionally increase employee contribution rates or reduce cost-of-living allowances. This rule is properly viewed either as an application of the federal Contract Clause, which usually defers to state law on the threshold question of whether there’s a contract and what it covers, or as an application of a more generous state Contract Clause. Thus, there’s nothing legally invalid about the California rule. But the rule is unsound as a policy matter, insofar as it locks governments and public employees into compensation structures different than what they would otherwise negotiate, and makes it harder for states to reform their pension systems....[Read Now!]

Sunsetting the Tennessee Judicial Nominating Commission: What Now?

State Courts Project White Paper
Brian T. Fitzpatrick June 26, 2013

Sunsetting the Tennessee Judicial Nominating Commission:  What Now?The text of the Tennessee Constitution states all judges “shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state.” Despite the unambiguous text calling for elections, two special Tennessee Supreme Courts have ruled that Tennessee’s judges can be selected by a system of appointment set forth only in statutes and known as the “Missouri Plan.” Putting to the side the question whether Tennessee’s Missouri Plan statutes are constitutional (a question which I have answered elsewhere in the negative), the purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of recent statutory changes on the existing system...[Read Now!]